Breaking Down the Commercial UAV Expo 2022
The Commercial UAV Expo is one of the top annual UAV industry gatherings. And, this year’s conference was no exception. Commercial UAV Expo 2022 occurred from September 6-8 at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas, NV, and played host to a huge variety of new tech, services, and solutions for industries everywhere.
The three-day event hosted live outdoor demonstrations, panel discussions, industry-specific training sessions, and an exhibitor showroom with over 200 exhibitors. Additionally, the Commercial UAV Expo had nightly networking events, bringing the industry’s talents together for collaboration, innovation, and the consumption of finger foods.
Even if you weren’t able to attend, you can still explore some of the highlights of the show. In addition to some of the information still posted on the expo’s website, we’re here to break down the highlights of the show for you.
Let’s explore a rundown of some of the key takeaways from this amazing experience.
For the popular outdoor demonstration, five busloads of people braved over 100°F temperatures (38°C) of the Nevada desert to watch the event from 7 am to 1 pm. The 300-plus people in attendance were well rewarded with presentations from Ascent AeroSystems, Autel Robotics, Commaris, Frontier Precision, Skydio, Skyfront, Volatus Aerospace, and Wingtra.
Each company showcased real-world applications for its drones and related technology.
The scorching heat also helped prove just how robust many drones are, with those performing later in the day flying in 110-degree heat without any issues.
We’ve definitely come a long way since the days of the DJI Phantom 3 Standard being the drone to judge all others by.
New Innovations/Updates Showcased at Commercial UAV Expo 2022
The Exhibitor’s Showcase was a chance for participants to share their latest innovations and developments. Presenters included Autel Robotics, A2Z Drone Delivery, Skyfront, and Watts Innovations, to name just a few.
Autel Robotics’ Jon McBride spoke of the importance of training pilots on their drones.
This is especially true for the company’s flagship drone, the Dragonfish. The UAV has been on the market for a few years and features a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) design. VTOL allows the drone to take off from virtually anywhere, while also offering incredible 120-minute flight times.
Now, let’s look at a few of the major innovations presented at this year’s Commercial UAV Expo 2022.
Skyfront's Long-Distance Drone
Billing itself as the leading hybrid electric drone company, Skyfront was on hand to discuss the benefits of its long endurance hybrid gas-electric multicopter drones. The company’s Perimeter series of UAVs have some impressive capabilities worth considering.
Once regulations for beyond visual line of sight flying are passed, the Perimeter series of UAVs is ready to make the most of it. These hybrid drones can fly for five hours without a payload, one hour with a 22-pound payload, and operate at a range of 60 miles.
A2Z’s Winch Impresses
In August, A2Z Drone Deliveries announced their latest winch for drone deliveries. At Commercial UAV Expo 2022, attendees had a chance to see it in person.
Their presentation and exhibit booth showcased the winch’s fantastic abilities, with the ability to raise and lower packages as heavy as 22 pounds. Given the power of this new winch, almost any drone can be made into a very capable delivery platform.
A2Z Drone Delivery believes the technology has a wide range of applications. In addition to package delivery, some of the uses for the winch include search and rescue, ship-to-shore transport, medical delivery, and solving last-mile logistics problems.
Based in Baltimore, MD, Watts Innovations has been in the aerospace industry since 2016.
Their newest drone, the PRISM Sky, was front and center at the Commercial UAV Expo 2022. Powered by Auterion, it is an NDAA-compliant drone designed for applications such as cargo hauling, LiDAR scanning, package delivery, infrastructure inspections, and more.
The company has made a name for itself with regard to innovative solutions.
When current industry solutions don’t fit their needs, it’s common for the team to design and build their own new components, in-house.
That’s exactly the kind of resourcefulness that has customers like DroneUp and Walmart knocking on their door for UAVs.
Growing International Community
This year’s Commercial UAV Expo 2022 featured increased participation from the international community.
As the benefits of UAV technology continue to expand, more countries look to become global players in the drone industry. A few countries of interest in this year’s show were South Korea, Japan, and several European countries.
The South Korean government, for instance, is betting big on drones.
Daekyung, Choi – Deputy Director of MOLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation), spoke on the state of the Drone/UAM Industry in Korea and the direction of government policy.
In his talk, the Deputy Director highlighted South Korea’s current standing as the 10th largest drone producer in the world, with aspirations to become the 7th largest in the next decade. With government support, they have numerous test sites, and project their domestic drone market to reach $740 million by 2025.
In Japan, ACSL is a well-known drone manufacturer.
In a country where the death rate exceeds the birth rate, ACSL hopes to “liberate humanity through technology.” ACSL looks to remove people from of unsafe conditions, such as confined spaces, and replace them with drones, instead. The company’s largest shareholder is Japan Post, the country’s postal service, who already use their delivery drones extensively.
The company made its first appearance at the Commercial UAV Expo 2022.
Its small aerial photography UAV, the SOTEN, features an innovative one-touch switchable payload. You can quickly switch between RGB, multispectral, zoom camera, and thermal payloads within seconds. Their other products were just as exciting and worth taking a look at.
The Ukraine Effect
As terrible as the devastation in Ukraine has been over the past year, it’s also highlighted the value of drones in the region. Notably, one Ukrainian drone company, Culver Aviation, was in attendance. The company has been around since 2014 and was presenting its Menatir system.
The Menatir is essentially a shipping container, which holds up to six of the company’s drones, as well as the base station to control them.
The drones inside are fully automated, capable of providing uninterrupted surveillance without any human interaction.
It’s a platform that was well suited for the Russian attack earlier this year. As a result, Culver Aviation has played a significant role in support of their country’s current conflict.
But, it’s in no way limited only to war or conflict. Other missions include fire prevention, aerial surveys, crop monitoring, and air quality analysis.
Discussions Panels & Presentations
The three days of the expo had plenty to offer regarding discussions and presentations.
Although there are too many to review in this article, they ran the gamut from the opening keynote address with Skydio CEO Adam Bry and FAA Vice President of Flight Program Operations, AJF-0, for the Air Traffic Organization, David Boulter, to talks on AAM/UAM.
Two of my personal favorites were the discussion on Beyond Visual Line of Sight rules (BVLOS) and Pitch the Press.
The BVLOS talk was a round table with members of The FAA’s Beyond Visual Line of Sight Aviation Rulemaking Committee (BVLOS ARC).
Present were representatives from Amazon Prime Air, Skydio, Spright, Northern Plains UAS Test Site, Commercial Drone Alliance & Hogan Lovells, and the FAA.
The panel discussed the entire process they went through to recommend BVLOS rules. Jay Merkle of the FAA informed the crowd that they are currently working on the BVLOS rule and could have something ready for public comment in the Fall of this year.
With drone regulations currently lagging far behind the physical abilities of equipment, more relaxed BVLOS regulations would open up a dramatic number of new opportunities and use cases.
Hopefully, restrictions on BVLOS are eased sooner, rather than later.
Pitch the Press Event
Pitch the Press is a different kind of panel.
Specially selected companies are given just two minutes and a single slide to show members of the press why they’re innovative and doing something new & different.
Seventeen companies were selected to take part in the event, including Consortiq.
After the panel of industry press heard the presentations, they chose the top three as winners.
And, we’re proud and honored to say that along with Air6 and Wonder Robotics, Consortiq was among the top three winners chosen! Congrats to fellow winners, and to everyone who demonstrated at Pitch the Press!
Air6 has developed a drone ship with four UAVs to inspect offshore wind turbines. Using people to inspect turbines manually, crews could only complete one turbine a day. Using Air6’s DrSuit ship and drones, they can complete 120 turbine inspections, all without putting people in harm’s way.
Wonder Robotics has developed sensors that make landing a drone safer, technology critical for making drone delivery safe and reliable. The company’s sensor can fit on many drones, and help to avoid incidents like a package falling on a child (or anyone, for that matter).
And, finally Consortiq’s approach to building inspections impressed the judges. Although drones are great at capturing the outside of a structure, it’s often only half the picture. With our digital asset modelling (DAM) and building information management (BIM) software solutions, mapping the exterior and interior of facilities is possible. Not only is a facility accurately mapped and detailed, but critical components can be tracked and monitored throughout the facility’s lifespan.
This simplifies building management with a better way to document information for maintenance needs, insurance requirements, meeting legal building code regulations, tracking information across multiple departments, and much more.
Biggest Showroom Floor Ever at Commercial UAV Expo 2022
The showroom floor was the largest ever for the expo, with all booths selling out.
Nontraditional drones were also present, such as Elistair’s tethered drones and BRINC’s Lemur S (SWAT team drone). Software solutions, payloads of every kind, UAV industry organizations like Women And Drones, and numerous schools like Embry-Riddle and the Fullerton Drone Lab were also in attendance.
All in all, the Commercial UAV Expo 2022 was a huge success.
The demonstrations were outstanding, the presentations were informative, and connecting with others in our industry is a real treat.
If you missed this year’s expo, mark your calendar early for next year’s show. Dates have yet to be released, but it should be around the same time in Las Vegas next year. I hope to see you all there!
Are you ready to begin your journey in the UAV industry? If so, Consortiq can help you take you where you need to go.
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