Interdrone 2018 – Autonomous Drones and UTM

Written on 19th Sept 2018

At the beginning of Sept I had the privilege of attending Interdrone, one of the leading conferences for the Drone Industry, held in Las Vegas, USA.

What is it? Interdrone is a combination exhibition and conference for all things commercial drone operations, which runs for 4 days. Over 3,500 drone professionals attend and 160 companies exhibit. They also host 110 workshops, sessions and panels over the 4 days of the conference.

Exhibitors vary from UAS manufacturers & software providers to insurers. Most of the companies are promoting their latest advances and it was really exciting to get eyes (or even hands) on with some of the equipment having only seen it online before this.

My favourite was the Skydio R1, having seen videos of this semi-autonomous drone in action tracking people through woodland whilst filming them running or biking it was great to get hands on with it and chat to the team behind it. I still think it’s a game changer to have a piece of equipment with this capability that is only a bit bigger than a Mavic Pro, and is only $2000. Now they’ve released their Autonomy Platform for anyone to create skills on I feel their technology will go from strength to strength and I look forward to see what they do next.

Consortiq had their own stand which we shared with Optelos. We were talking all things training, consultancy and flight planning software, while Optelos covered analytics and insights from the data gathered by drones. 

Conference sessions span several interest tracks from Precision Agriculture to Public Safety, and there was also a Part 107 preparation day the day before the conference started. Unfortunately one of the issues with being an exhibitor is you don’t get to fully enjoy the conference.

I did manage to go along to a session on Data Security & Drones by DJI, which gave a useful rundown of data risks at each point of connection in the stack. It was great to see them starting to talk more about this as a concern for the industry as a whole given their position in the market. Hopefully it will emphasise to regular users how important security is to their operations, their data and ultimately their livelihood.

The other interesting session I went to was by Airmap on opening the skies up for drones. Greg McNeal mentioned that progress on advanced drone operations (and volume of operations) has stalled due to regulations. It was interesting to see how much parallelled the points I raised at my Royal Aeronautical Society talk on Innovation Vs Regulation, showing that we are facing a global issue not local.

When / where is it? Interdrone is held at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, USA. It is usually held during the first week of September. The 2019 dates have already been announced – September 3rd – 6th (at the Rio Hotel again).

Is it worth me going? It really depends, if you’re interested in new hardware from someone other than DJI, and looking to see as many of the advancements in the drone industry in one place then yes. If you’re interested in learning more about how to conduct your operations more efficiently, safely and exploiting the latest technologies then the conference will be good for you. If you don’t mind a 14hr flight with a 2hr stop in Chicago and are ok with 108 F (42 C) temperatures, then you’ll get on just fine.

Take a look at our video of the event to see some more highlights (and some great out-takes).

About the attendees:
Garf (Right) is Consortiq’s CTO and is responsible for our mission planning software CQNet.

Bryan (Left) is our US VP and is responsible for all training and consultancy in the USA.

Ben (Middle) is our Business Development Manager and has to ensure our customers are always happy.

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