Features

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is bringing this year's XPONENTIAL 2019 to McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. The event, which runs from April 29 – May 2, will feature more than 150 technical sessions focused on all aspects of the unmanned vehicle and robotics market. Over 700 exhibitors representing more than 20 different industries will be showcasing their latest technology to an estimated 8,500 attendees from all over the world.

(Photo: Bruce A. Bennett)

What will you encounter at XPONENTIAL 2019?

The event kicks off on Monday, April 29, with a Droneport seminar from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm and a UAS Weather Forum from 9:30 am to noon. Educational sessions will take place from 1:30 to 5:00 pm, followed by an exhibitors’ reception from 4:30 to 5:30 pm. Monday will also feature a session called “Autonomous Flight for Tomorrow – Technology Leaders in Vertical Flight from 1:30 to 4:30 pm

Special events planned for Tuesday, April 30, include the highly anticipated keynote address and AUVSI Member Awards from 9:00 – 10:30 am; the AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards ceremony from 11:30 am – 12:15 pm; the Take 5 Networking Break, which is open to VIP and full-conference pass holders from 2:15 pm – 3:00 pm; and the always popular Women and Diversity in Robotics session from 3:00 – 4:30 pm.

Boeing Aircraft’s booth was busy during XPONENTIAL 2018 in Denver. (Photo: Bruce A. Bennett)

Wednesday's special events will include another keynote address from 9:00 – 10:30 am; a strategic marketing workshop called Get Your Drone Business Off The Ground from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm; another Take 5 Networking Break for VIP and full conference pass holders from 2:15 – 3:00 pm; and the always exciting Startup Showdown from 3:00 – 4:30 pm. And on Wednesday evening, from 4:30 - 6:00 pm, AUVSI will be hosting The MAX, billed as XPONENTIAL's largest networking event. You won't even have to leave the show floor to mingle, relax, and enjoy food, drinks, entertainment and games.

Exhibit Hall

Some of the aggressive-looking unmanned vehicles on display in the iSENSYS booth at XPONENTIAL 2018. (Photo: Bruce A. Bennett)

The exhibit hall - dubbed XPO Hall, of course - opens for business on Tuesday morning at 10:30, and you can rest assured there will be plenty of things to see and do. More than 700 exhibitors from around the world will occupy Chicago's spacious McCormick Place to showcase their latest technology and products covering all aspects of unmanned vehicle and robotics design, manufacturing, and use including air, ground, surface, subsurface, space systems, weapons systems, security systems, engineering and R&D, propulsion systems, sensors, electronics, fabrication, imaging and communications systems.

In addition to the normal array of exhibitors, this year's XPO Hall offers a number of features designed to help attendees get the most out of their XPONENTIAL experience. A Growing the Industry Hub featuring an unmanned systems & robotics database, Trusted Operator Program (TOP), RoboNation, and an AUVSI member lounge, is designed to help newbies and experienced industry veterans alike deepen their knowledge and expand their connections. New for this year, a unique low-speed ground demo will allow attendees to get up close and interact with autonomous vehicles and the technologies that make them work, including a ride-along on a specially configured track right on the show floor. The Solutions Theater will offer attendees unique insights and presentations on a variety of topics facing the unmanned systems industry today.

One of the many technical panel discussions that took place during XPONENTIAL 2018. (Photo: Bruce A. Bennett)

This year there will be seven international pavilions featuring companies from Alberta, China, Denmark, France, Norway, Quebec, and Spain. On the home front, ten State Pavilions will showcase the latest technology being developed in: Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia.

Educational Program

Those seeking the latest cutting-edge information about unmanned vehicles and robotics technology can attend a variety of stimulating courses and seminars at XPONENTIAL 2019. This year, the courses have been broken down into five primary tracks: a Drone Tech User track, a Policy track, a Public Safety UAS track, a Technology track, and a Trending Topics track. Although parts of the program were still being finalized as we went to press, here are some of the educational programs being offered:

Drone Tech User Track

New this year, the Drone Tech User track will offer participants of all experience levels – beginner, intermediate, and advanced – the tools they need to tackle everything from building a business case for the use of drones to scaling operations across an enterprise. Some of the sessions being offered include:

  • Selecting the Right Drone Technology for Your Program

  • Flight Operations Management: What Your Team Needs to Know

  • Maximizing ROI Through Data Integration and Management

Policy Track

The Policy Track is designed to give attendees access to the latest information on policies and regulations impacting the unmanned vehicle and robotics industries from the leaders formulating them. Some of the panel sessions being offered are:

  • Addressing State and Local Issues Impacting UAS Regulation

  • U.S. DoD Acquisition Innovation and Implications for the Unmanned Industry

  • The New Regulatory Era Ahead for UAS Under the FAA Reauthorization Act

Public Safety UAS Track

Griffon Aerospace showed off a number of their UAV models at XPONENTIAL 2018. (Photo: Bruce A. Bennett)

This new two-day track offers those involved with protecting public safety an opportunity to network with each other and experts in the field to discuss key issues of interest to the community. Some of the sessions, which will be led by experienced emergency responders and public safety officials, will cover:

  • Disaster Response: Saving Time, Money and Lives with Unmanned Systems

  • Making the Most of Drone Data and Imagery for Public Safety Applications

  • Training Considerations for Public Safety UAS Operations

Technology Track

The Technology Track is a collection of curated sessions for engineers, developers, technologists, and researchers designed to keep them abreast of the latest developments affecting areas like robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, and payload advancements. Some of the sessions being offered are:

  • Modelling and Guidance, Navigation, and Control Systems for an Unmanned Surface Vehicle

  • Jump Start Your Autonomous Vehicle with Open-Standard Software

  • Surface Wave-Based Underwater Radio Communication

Trending Topics

This track is designed to give participants insight into the industry's biggest growth markets and hottest technology trends. Some of the panel sessions being offered are:

  • Automated Ships: The Next Unmanned Frontier

  • Authorizing BVLDS Operations at Scale: Lessons Learned from Switzerland

  • AUVSI SME Panel: Blockchain for Autonomous Systems

After Hours

If you have any energy left over at the close of show each day, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Chicago. Check out downtown Chicago and walk along the riverfront or go shopping on the Miracle Mile. Take a peaceful stroll through Grant Park and marvel at the magnificent Buckingham Fountain with the Chicago skyline in the background. Pay a visit to the Shedd Aquarium or Adler Planetarium. Or simply indulge your inner foodie at any of the many eating establishments the city has to offer. Whatever you do, it's sure to be a rewarding compliment to all there is to see and learn at XPONENTIAL 2019.