…you’re in luck, because practically everything you need to know is right here. Throughout the XPONENTIAL event I attended sessions and visited with exhibitors who are dedicated to the commercial applications of this technology in our target markets, but what’s here isn’t meant to tell you everything about the event. Instead, my focus was about trying to get a handle on how things are changing and developing for commercial UAV applications of all types.


Showcasing UAVs in Precision Agriculture, Sorting Through Federal, State and Local Regulation

While the exhibit floor didn’t open until the second day of the event, the first day featured plenty of sessions that kept attendees busy all day. I made sure to stop by a couple that focused on agriculture and mining, and it was interesting to hear how drones are changing the outlook for professionals in all of these industries.

In one session, an attendee commented that they had tried their whole life to get away from the farm, but drone technology was pulling them back to it. The technology was simply opening up too many opportunities in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, and he felt compelled to act on them because of what they could mean to his family’s operation. In an oil & gas session another attendee mentioned he was considering quitting his job to run his own drone business, which he thought would be far more financially lucrative for him. It was eye-opening to hear how much the technology had changed their perspectives.

More from Day 1.


UAVs as Agents of Disruption, Flying a Drone in Oil and Gas

Day 2 saw the official opening of the event as AUVSI President and CEO Brian Wynne greeted the audience at the general session but then quickly stood aside for presentations from Gur Kimchi, VP Prime Air at Amazon and John Chambers, Executive Chairman at Cisco Systems. I also made time to check out a couple presentations that focused on oil & gas along with one that got specific about technology that’s impacting search and rescue efforts.

The presentation delivered by John Chambers was probably the highlight of the day though, and it was great to hear him explain and explore what disruption mean for the industry. He talked through what he saw as the key catalysts around change which included cheaper sensors, the implications of Part 107 and plenty more. However, the most important thing he said came down to being able to impact and alter the perspective of the individual. “If you agree with everything I’ve said, I’ve failed,” he stated. It was a perfect reminder of where true innovation and disruption needs to come from, because that’s the only place it can come from.

More from Day 2.


FAA Updates, Flying BVLOS, Drone in Construction

The big news of Day 3 of XPONENTIAL concerned the updates that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta rolled out during the general session. There was still plenty to see and hear throughout the day as I was able to gather some specific info about how drones are being used in construction and what the future holds for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.

I had some extra time to explore the show floor on Day 3, and what stood out to me most that day was the speed of the industry. Predictions that some experts made only a few months ago already look like they’re coming true, while technology that isn’t widely available or even legal in certain countries was on full display. Innovation drives this industry, and you could see that in the headsets synonymous with VR/AR technology as well as the drone that is essentially a collection of other drones or even in a field-deployable battery swap station built into a Pelican Case. It’s not about how things are being done now, but how they will be done, and that concept will keep getting pushed forward to drive the industry as a whole.

More from Day 3


Allowing Drones to Keep a Competitive Advantage, UAVs and Safety

The fourth and final day of the event saw a pretty great discussion take place that included representatives from Congress and NASA, but what really stuck out to me that day was how much of an impact safety concerns have on everything. Safety is obviously a major point of interest, but it was enlightening to hear and see what kind of a priority it rightly takes for people on every side of the discussion.

Another item that came up on the last day was something that was brought up throughout the event, and that had to do with how professionals are looking to move forward. Attendees came to sessions with specific questions in mind to ask, which is proof they weren’t here to listen or talk about potential and ill-defined opportunities. Over and over, presenters and speakers mentioned that users shouldn’t be starting with a drone, they should first and foremost identify a need and then consider how a UAV is going to impact their situation. That piece of advice was basically the crux of the Top 7 Mistakes Enterprises Make with Drones slide that John Chambers shared during his presentation.

It’s easy to get caught up in the “coolness” factor of the technology, and it’s exciting to think about all the things drones can do. At the same time though, it’s more important than ever to be able to pull back and consider real world impacts and implications. At XPONENTIAL, people on every side of the conversation seemed to be ready and willing to do just that, which is going to mean positive developments for the industry as a whole.

More from Day 4


That’s all I have to say about the event, but there’s still plenty to see. Check out a number of pictures from XPONENTIAL that didn’t make it into any of my daily reports.