I’ll be attending the Commercial UAV Expo Europe in April and given all that’s gone on in the Drone Industry in the past 12 months, it will be good to meetup again with all the different players from across the industry’s eco-system to get a pulse of where we are today. Personally, there are 5 main things I’ll be watching out for:

1. The Maturity of the Drone Industry.

It's been fascinating to watch the drone industry over the last three or four years evolve at an incredible pace. When I mentioned drones to many people back 4 or 5 years ago, most looked at me with a look of ‘Yeah right … keeping taking your tablets, Kevin’. And here we are in 2018. Huge progress and yet this industry is still in its infancy. So it will be good to get a pulse at the event from all the various stakeholders in this industry as to how they perceive the industry today & how they see the industry maturing over the next 12+ months. What are people's thoughts on industry consolidation, on asset owners developing their own in-house drone services or will they go to third-party drone providers?, is the industry making progress on dealing with all of the data being collected? And what are the big ‘elephants in the room’. BVLOS?, Autonomous Drones?, Regulatory roadblocks?, Social acceptance? It can’t all be “happy happy, joy joy”.

2. New Industry use cases.

One of the key benefits of going to this event is that you get to see drone use cases from multiple industries. I spend a lot of my time focused on the Energy industry so I'm often attending energy events where it's all about energy use cases. All good but it can be a bit of ‘same old, same old’. So going to an event where you find all sorts of use cases from different industries can be really helpful to spot a use case that could be applicable to the energy industry.

3. Where are we with the EU’s UAS traffic management system (UTM / U-Space)?

At the recent Mobile World Congress, I got a great update on the strategy & plans for the EU’s UTM which is scheduled to be operational in 2019. It will be interesting to gauge how others see this playing out. What's good / not so good, what's feasible by 2019 and what issues do folks see coming down the line. I’ll also be curious to find out the level of acceptance for Galileo (the EU’s Global Satellite Navigation System) within the industry. Does it provide a competitive advance or is it a ‘nice to have’?

4. 5G or not 5G …

Also at Mobile World Congress, the GSMA delivered a lot of great sessions on the value proposition that today’s mobile networks & 5G in the future can offer to the drone industry especially in relation to UTM for identification, security, location etc. As you can imagine, given it was MWC18, it was all ‘good news’. So it will be interesting to hear what folks see as reality when it comes to utilizing the existing mobile network infrastructure and what they see 5G can deliver in the future.

5. Drone Hero.

One of the highlights for me last year at the event was the Drone Hero Initiative. Hearing directly from innovative startups focused on some incredible drone use cases combined with their enthusiasm for the industry was brilliant which is something I wrote about last year. So I'm looking forward to the Drone Hero sessions again this year. As I often say, I don't know what I don't know. Drone Hero is a great way to find out what I don't know.


I hope to see you in Amsterdam at Commercial UAV Expo Europe. We’ll have loads to chat about.