AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2018 was fantastic.

With 700 exhibitors and near 8500 attendees, XPONENTIAL is the largest show for AUVSI and one of the largest professional unmanned systems shows in the world.

AUVSI stands for The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.  It is the world’s largest nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community.  The attendees included leaders in defense and the commercial sectors of this industry.

Since the organization encompasses “ALL” things unmanned, you would expect this event to be huge. It did not fall short of expectations.   The primary focus for this review is the sUAS (aka, Drones) portion of AUVSI XPONENTIAL.

Topics from agriculture, construction, energy, mining, telecommunications and more.   AUVSI offered 43 tracks of education to choose from. Typical of any large convention, some tracks were overlapping and difficult to attend.   Luckily, some guest speakers were on multiple panels as well.   The information provided was invaluable.  Each session had several distinguished panelists who were extremely knowledgeable in the industry, from the development side to the end users.

The XPONENTIAL itself was well organized and addressed several “hot topics”.  The most talked about topic was Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). The panelists gave insight to many “behind the scenes” and related issues.   The prediction is that BVLOS will not happen for another five to ten years but that major progress will be seen in two years. There are still many unanswered questions regarding safety cases, training and detection.  It was good to see forward moving progress by such companies as Skyward, PrecisionHawk and others.

There was some excitement about LAANC being fully functional soon as well. It was repeatedly mentioned that the FAA working with the private industry  was very positive and beneficial.   Also noted, the rules for the 107.39 flying over people will be released soon. Up until now, it’s been difficult to find guidelines for operations for a waiver or authorizations.

Three days of Keynote speakers.   Each day had a different unmanned theme including social, economic and humanitarian. The speakers gave a different picture of the related topics and shared the innovative directions their companies are moving.

On the XPONENTIAL floor, numerous exhibitors displayed their products from the various directions of the industry. The XPONENTIAL was an ideal place for searching for the latest innovation in software, robotics, safety and security.  There were also many highlighted activities.  Ceremonies, presentations and workshops were held indoors and outdoors, from flying on the rooftop to drone racing inside.   STEM, robotics, racing, and so much more!  For the short amount of time, there was much to take in.

Based on the large numbers of people who attended the networking events, it seems many attendees took advantage of the opportunity to meet and greet.   Monday night the floor was standing room only at the welcome event.  Tuesday had several options for networking including private parties. Wednesday was “The Mix” held at the Denver Hard Rock Cafe.    The street was closed and a tent was brought in to allow for more fun and entertainment.

Women and Diversity was a huge success.   Several tables were filled for the round table discussions on various subjects ranging from “life hacks” to STEM education. Each person attending had an opportunity to sit at three different tables. This allowed each person to speak in smaller groups directly with someone on a specific topic.    The moderator Sara Blackmer, President of Rave Computer did an excellent job of keeping the program on schedule.

Also during an informal conversation it was good to hear Chris Puig, Special Assistant to the President and CEO/Board Liaison at AUVSI asking about Women and Drones and how to  promote more female attendance. He was open to ideas and asked for suggestions.

AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2018 offered an abundance of educational tracks and activities.  The guest speakers did an excellent job providing professional expertise.  The XPONENTIAL was well organized, with a good amount of information about the Unmanned industry.  Looking forward to   AUVSI Chicago 2019!

We appreciate any comments or suggestions whether you attended the XPONENTIAL or not.  If you have any thoughts how to promote the female attendance, please share them with us.    Also let us know if there is any subject or product you would like to know about.

Desiree Ekstein – Drone Diva Desi
Desi’s fleet of drones:  DJI Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 and Phantom 3 Pro

“Expert Insight” is the independent views and opinions of the submitting named author of this article.

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