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Commercial UAV Expo Americas 2019 exceeds expectations 

A record-breaking number of exhibitors and attendees gathered last week for Commercial UAV Expo Americas 2019, held from October 28-30 in Las Vegas, USA. The fifth annual event had 202 exhibitors and more than 3,100 professionals in the commercial drone industry, cementing its place as the leading commercial UAS-focused event in North America. “The year-over-year growth was tremendous,” said Lisa Murray, Group Director at Diversified Communications which produces the event. “Attendance was 32 per cent over last year, with drone professionals coming from all 50 US states and 54 countries. We had 110 new exhibitors and a total of 260 booths.”

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With over 3100 attendees, this year's expo in Las Vegas was the most successful to date, up more than 30 per cent on last year. Image: Eugeniu Frimu|123rf

The event began with extensive pre-conference programming including live outdoor flying demonstrations in Henderson, NV put on in cooperation with Sundance Media Group and participating vendors. “Hands-on experience and being able to go physically see the operations in real time was fantastic. It’s critical, because you can really visualise how you can take and apply this technology and demonstration into your real-world operations,” said Christopher Wacinski of FevaTech, who attended the demos.

Attendees’ first look at the expansive exhibit floor was during the Welcome Happy Hour. Best-in-class solutions from the most influential companies were on display, allowing participants to network and source the latest drone innovations. Jeff Powell, of exhibiting company Autel Robotics, commented on the quality of attendees: “One of the differences with this show versus other shows I’ve been to is that the right people are coming in. They’re all here to learn more about the products that they need to use for their industries. So the conversations we’ve had have been significant for us.”

Space and aviation

Keynote speakers included James Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator, and Bala Ganesh, Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group at UPS. Bridenstine discussed how unmanned systems help achieve NASA’s missions to the Moon and Mars and the industrialisation of space. He highlighted how and why the administration he leads is not only about space goals, but also about aviation, both manned and unmanned. “UAVs and urban air mobility (UAM) are the future, but before we reach that future, we need to work hard in perfecting air traffic management systems and solve issues of infrastructure and certification,” Bridenstine told the crowd.

Ganesh touched on the FAA’s recent granting of the first full Part 135 certification to operate a drone airline without limits on the size or scope of operations, a big win for UPS and the commercial unmanned industry. He said their groundbreaking initiative to deliver medical samples via drones to WakeMed in Raleigh, NC has resulted in lab deliveries that previously took more than an hour currently taking five minutes.

The keynote presentations were followed by a panel discussion of CEOs in the commercial drone space titled “UAS Insights and Strategies for Success in the Current Marketplace.” Each business leader discussed their path to success in the drone industry as well as their vision for the future of commercial UAS technology.

Drones in public safety

New this year, the DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Summit included a public safety session with the LAFD Drone Program, a panel on drones in law enforcement and forensic analysis, discussions on disaster response and data management, public safety working groups, interactive question and answer sessions, and more. Brian Hon, from the Arizona Department of Public Safety said: “The technology that is being showcased here, the things that we’ve learned and techniques that we’ve gained, are absolutely helping us do our jobs better.”

This year’s event also featured new programming and networking to further advance and promote women in the commercial drone industry including a Women In Drones Session and networking opportunities.

The final evening’s Networking Reception, sponsored by YUNEEC, facilitated connections between professionals in similar industries. Brian Tiedemann, of Florida Keys Electric Cooperative, said: “The networking is unbelievable. That is the number one thing when you come to an expo like this. It is second to none.”

“The full power of the drone industry was on display at our fifth edition of Commercial UAV Expo,” concludes Murray. “By convening the most influential companies and thought leaders to share their expertise and solutions, we gave everyone involved in the commercial drone market the opportunity to learn from the best.”

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