It’s amazing to think it’s time to head off to Commercial UAV Expo Europe again. It seems that last years event was just a few months ago, and there were numerous things to look forward to and take away from that event. This will be my third time attending the Expo, and I'm looking forward to seeing it grow. I will again have the opportunity to be the Chair of the Energy & Utilities Track and to be the facilitator of our 2nd Energy Executive Roundtable. Insights from our first session are available to download.

What will I be looking out for this year specifically though? Several things:

1. What’s top of mind with Energy Exec's this year?

We’d asked all the participants for this year's Energy Executive Roundtable to let us know what topics are of most interest to them during the roundtable. We provided them with an extensive list and based on the priorities they set, the top 3 topics we’ll be discussing during the Roundtable are:

  • Machine Learning and AI
  • Sharing of most effective use cases/experiences & results, given today’s technology, regulations and best practices
  • BVLOS & Autonomous Drone Operations

It will be fascinating to hear the Exec’s their point of view, their key learnings, their concerns and expectations on each of these topics this time around. Sharing of use cases/experience and BVLOS were in the Top 3 last year as well. Machine Learning and AI is a new ‘Number 1’ topic this year. Just goes to show how this industry is maturing.

For your reference, the full list of topics we’d given to the attendees can be found right here.

2. AI or Not AI – that is the question

At all sorts of events in the past 12 months, I’ve seen and heard so many companies talking about their ‘Artificial Intelligent’ (AI) capabilities. The thing is, AI means many things to many people, and while there have been some excellent developments in Machine Learning, in my opinion, not everything out there that’s labeled as ‘AI’ is what I would define as a true Artificial Intelligence. So I’ll be curious to find out who’s claiming what at Commercial UAV Expo Europe.

3. CounterUAV Technologies

Drone have made headlines for all the wrong reasons in the past 12 months, with the Gatwick Airport incident being especially glaring. That's why I’m curious to see just how much focus will be on counter UAV technologies & strategies.

A drone, like any other tool, can be used by someone for good or not so good. Since human nature has not changed in 4,000+ years, it’s a given some people will use drones for ‘not so good’ and that's why the industry has to address the issue.

The developments around U-Space / UTM all play a part in this issue, but even when we have an excellent drone ID system so you can ‘see’ the drone, you may still have to physically deal with the drone before bad things happen. So it will be interesting to hear the various points of view on what can be done today, technically and legally.

4. New industry use cases

Like every year, one of the key benefits of going to events like Commercial UAV Expo Europe is that you get to see drone use cases from multiple industries. I spend my time focused on the Energy industry and while there are new Energy Industry use cases in the past 12 months, it will be good to see and hear about new use cases in other industries that may be applicable to the energy industry.

Use cases that will discuss how the drone technology is being used in industries that range from construction to agriculture to public safety are also part of the program, and I'm looking forward to taking in as many of those sessions as I can.

5. Drone Hero Europe

And finally, the Drone Hero Competition is one of the highlights of the event for me, but this year is going to be especially memorable as I have the honor of being one of the judges. There were 21 different contestants and you can review them all over on the Drone Hero site.

Hearing directly from innovative startups, who are focused on some incredible drone use cases, combined with their enthusiasm for the industry is brilliant to see. I wish all this year's contestants well.


Now, of course, there will be a lot of to learn about the latest status of the EU’s U-Space regulations, worldwide UTM development, if/when 5G is going to play a role in BVLOS etc, etc. These are topics that are always top of mind, and the event is the ideal place to learn how things are developing with all of them.

And as I always say, I don’t know what I don’t know. I'm sure there will be some totally innovative technologies that I’d never even dreamed about turn up, and I'm looking forward to discovering the unexpected and unforeseen at the event.


I hope to see you at #expouaveu19. If you're going to be at the event make sure you say hello, as we'll have loads to chat about.