If further proof is needed that in-person conferences are back and stronger than ever, just turn to last month’s Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas. A record number of attendees spent three days perusing a jam-packed Caesars Forum convention hall looking at everything from long-established Amazon Prime’s latest delivery drone to up-and-coming Fixar’s autonomous fixed-wing vertical takeoff and landing survey drone.
Carl Berndtson, director of global partnerships for the show, told me more folks paid to attend the show than ever before, and not only was attendance well above pandemic levels of the last two years, it was 40 percent higher than 2019, the last pre-pandemic show.
I thought the show’s energy level was exceptionally high, hotter than the Las Vegas summer (115-degree day-time highs while we were there). Pandemic concerns appeared to be in the past. Outside the show on The Strip, Vegas seemed like Vegas again. Perhaps leaving with a lighter wallet (as per usual) contributed to that.
Inside the exhibit hall it was clear a younger generation of innovators is carving the future of UAVs. At xyHt we are obviously concerned mainly with the impact these innovators are having on surveying and the geo-spatial professions, and stories about them will appear in future issues.
But the show had a sci-fi feel to it, with exhibitors who are clearly innovating the future of Unmanned (Uncrewed or whatever you like to call it) Aerial Vehicles. As I wandered the aisles, I was impressed by almost every booth. A few seemed like they probably won’t fit in and a few seemed, perhaps, ahead of their time, but if these exhibits are demonstrating where the technology has taken us so far, I can’t wait for next year’s show.