The Naval Research Laboratory booth at XPONENTIAL 2017. (Photo: Bruce A. Bennett)

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is bringing this year's XPONENTIAL 2018 to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO. The event, which runs from April 30 - May 3, will feature more than 200 presentations and panel discussions focused on all aspects of the unmanned vehicle and robotics market. Over 725 exhibitors representing more than 20 different industries will be showcasing their latest technology to an estimated 7,000 attendees from all over the world.

The event kicks off on Monday afternoon, April 30, with educational programs and workshops from 1:30 to 5:15 pm, followed by a welcome reception and, if you're an exhibitor, an exhibitor's reception. These social gatherings are a great opportunity for first-time attendees and veterans alike to mingle and network in an informal relaxed atmosphere. And on Wednesday evening, from 6:30 - 9:30 pm, AUVSI will be taking over the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Denver to host The MIX, a social gathering designed to let attendees mingle, relax, and enjoy live music, food, interactive games, and a beer garden.

The exhibit hall - dubbed XPO Hall, of course - opens for business on Tuesday morning at 10:30. More than 725 exhibitors from around the world will occupy over 370,000 square feet of exhibit space 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 event offers a number of features designed to help attendees get the most out of their XPONENTIAL experience. The Starting Point Theater will give entrepreneurs a chance to listen to experts give practical advice on how to start up new businesses or integrate new technology into existing operations. The Solutions Theater will showcase XPONENTIAL exhibitors offering up-close looks at some of their latest advancements and technology solutions. And the always popular Poster Presentation will highlight the cutting-edge research being done by some of the brightest minds in the industry.

Show organizers are touting several "new features" this year that should attract a lot of attention. XBuild will gather some of the best and brightest engineering talent together and turn them loose to come up with new and innovative unmanned systems solutions in a unique buildathon/hackathon. And if competition is your thing, don't miss XPONENTIAL's first-ever drone racing event featuring professional drone operators competing for prizes. There will also be a Talent Acquisition area where attendees can meet with prospective employers and explore career opportunities; a Startup Showdown where five hopeful entrepreneurs will pitch the merits of their companies and products; and the AUVSI XCELLENSE Awards where the industry's leading contributors in 18 categories will be formally recognized.

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

Those seeking the latest cutting-edge information about unmanned vehicles and robotics technology can attend a variety of stimulating courses and seminars at XPONENTIAL 2018. Like last year, the courses have been broken down into four program tracks: Policy, Technology, Business Solutions and Trending Topics.

The Policy Track is designed to give attendees access to the latest information on policies and regulations impacting the unmanned vehicle and robotics industries straight from the people formulating them. The Technology Track, as its name implies, will keep you up to speed on the latest technological developments affecting areas like robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, software, and payload advancements. On the business front, unmanned vehicles and robotics technology is opening up all kinds of new business opportunities, and this track is designed to help you learn how to take advantage of them. And new this year is the Trending Topics track, which is designed to give participants insight into the industry's biggest growth markets and hottest technology trends from BVLOS drone operations to new developments in artificial intelligence.