Xponential 2019 preview article

The show floor at Xponential 2018. Source: AUVSI

April 22, 2019      

The unmanned aerial system ecosystem will gather next week in Chicago (April 29 through May 2) at the Xponential 2019 event, sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Held at the McCormick Place convention center, Xponential 2019 will feature more than 8,500 technologists, regulators, and end users across the commercial and defense sector within the unmanned and autonomous systems space.

Previous Xponential shows revealed a growing presence and diversity of fixed wing and multirotor drone applications across the industry. Since 2013, the inclusion of drones in company booths has risen from a presence in about one-third of show booths, to more than 80% in recent years. These represent new applications beyond traditional aerial surveillance, photogrammetry and mapping, and now include meteorology, communication relays, crop spraying, gathering of urban mass transit big data, and more. By Xponential 2017, the commercial side of the drone business had overtaken the former military dominance of the event.

If you’re attending the show, here are some steps to take that can optimize your time at the show.

Step #1: Have a show calendar

The show calendar is your detailed guide to this multifaceted event. It details the many different presentations, seminars, networking opportunities, receptions, summits and much more. Print it out (about four pages), and you will have a handy schedule that you can mark up with notes and carry with you – to make sure you know when and where you want to be. Drill down into the online version of the calendar to identify event presentations of the greatest relevance to your interests. There are more than 200 seminars, workshops, clinics, case studies and other educational sessions. All are described in great detail as you bring them up online.

Step #2: Pick some keynotes to attend

Dennis Muilenburg Boeing CEO Xponential 2019 preview

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing

This year’s keynote schedule provides an insider look at the technology and trends shaping the future of unmanned systems. Travis Mason, a vice president at Airbus who oversees certification of Airbus UAS and related regulatory compliance, will host 13 industry leaders speaking in the multiday keynote program.

These industry leaders comprise an unmatched brain trust of expertise, and their talks will offer invaluable perspective and guidance pertinent to this rapidly expanding industry. The lineup of “the industry’s most visionary doers and strategists” include Brian Wynne, AUVSI President and CEO; Michael Chasen, PrecisionHawk CEO; Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing CEO; David Albritton, President, General Motors Defence LLC; and Carl Burleson, Acting Deputy Administrator, FAA, to name just a few.

Step #3: Hit the show floor

More than 700 organizations are expected to exhibit on the show floor, up from just over 600 exhibitors at last year’s event. The list of sponsors – at just over 80 at press time – reads like a “Who’s Who” in the robotics and artificial intelligence space, representing the backbone of the industry.

There are a few companies that we recommend you visit during the conference, whether you are an exhibitor or simply walking the show. The powerhouse companies who are legends in robotics, aviation and AI systems are “must-sees”. These include Boeing, booth 1407; and Lockheed Martin, booth 2025.

Planck Aerosystems Xponential 2019 preview

Planck Aerosystems will show off its the Shearwater drone system, which is capable of landing on moving vehicles and is primarily used to assist in security, search and rescue, convoy support and special operations by providing live aerial surveillance to the user. Source: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jake McClung)

Another company with an intriguing product is Planck Aerosystems, at booth 1739. Planck Aerosystems’ multirotor drones are able to perform safe, autonomous missions, from moving vehicles, in national airspace both day and night. Planck Aerosystems drones can take off from off-road, moving vehicles, perform a mission, and return and land on the same vehicle while it is still moving. This system has been deployed by the U.S. Marines.

In addition to those vendors, many other companies with their own unique offerings will be displaying products, including:

  • Mobilicom (Booth 4108), which will show its SkyHopper end-to-end system for smart drones and robotics, which helps take regular drones and turn them into “smart drones, with communication data links, cybersecurity and encryption, among other features.
  • UAVOS (Booth 2440), plans to display more than 40 products and solutions in the UAS field, including its ApusDuo solar-electric stratospheric unmanned aircraft, which combines the advantage of a satellite with the flexibility and persistence of a UAV. The company will also show the HiDRON, an unmanned stratospheric glider that can launch, lift and return in-situ earth observation instruments.

You can peruse the list of all registered Xponential 2019 exhibitors here.

Step #4: Check out a collocated event

In addition to the keynotes and main conference sessions outlined in the show calendar, the AUVSI has partnered with other organizations to create additional opportunities to give more in-depth looks into specialized topics and systems. Some collacated events include:

  • Droneport Seminar ($349 fee, pre-registration required): How Droneports are creating an epicenter for regional UAS activities, providing companies with the airspace to fly drones safely.
  • UAS Weather Forum (free for all Xponential attendees, pre-registration required): Sharing experiences on weather impacts, discussing weather needs for UAS operations, and cultivating strategies on how to make progress with needed weather support.
  • Safety Management System for UAS Workshop ($330 fee, pre-registration required): Assisting new and existing UAS operators in designing and implementing a turn-key FAA SMS scaled to their individual operation.
  • Autonomous Flight for Tomorrow – Technology & Market Drivers for Urban VTOL (free for Xponential attendees, pre-registration required): The Vertical Flight Society presents an interactive panel with leaders from Aurora, Bell, Sikorsky, and NASA, as well as others. The event will cover how autonomy, electric propulsion, and other technologies are enabling an electric VTOL revolution for urban air mobility, for passenger and cargo applications.
  • Enabling Real-World BVLOS: Transforming UAS Potential Into Realized Commercial Operations (free for attendees, pre-registration required): This four-hour event features Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) practitioners and enablers, joined by partners or end-user clients, to reveal what they’ve done, and what they will be doing in the near-term future, to perform BVLOS commercial operations on a daily basis.

The full list of collocated events is available here.

Step #5: Meet other UAS colleagues

Like most trade show events, there are opportunities for attendees to meet others and find some new business opportunities, or just relax and have some liquid refreshments.

The main networking event is called The MAX, which will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, featuring food, drinks, entertainment, games and more than 8,500 attendees located in one place – the XPO Hall.

In addition, the event will feature an Exhibitor Reception (exhibitors only), and Influencer Reception (invitation only), a Chairman’s Reception (VIPs and invitees), as well as Take 5 Session Networking Breaks aimed at VIP and full conference pass holders.

Xponential 2019 will be the most comprehensive and largest conference and trade show for unmanned and autonomous systems yet held. Leaders in artificial intelligence, users, technologists, policy makers, educators and representatives from dozens of industries will be there. Robotics Business Review editors and writers will be at the show, we hope to see you there!