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Large Crowd Expected for Las Vegas Conference on Commercial Drones

Large Crowd Expected for Las Vegas Conference on Commercial Drones

About 4,000 people and close to 160 exhibitors are expected to attend InterDrone, a conference dedicated to commercial drones. Representatives from Nevada’s drone industry will be there keeping a close eye on the next industry disruptors and potential business opportunities.

“The whole field is advancing so fast, everybody keeps leapfrogging each other,” said InterDrone Chairman Ted Bahr.

InterDrone, which will run Wednesday through Friday at Paris Las Vegas, is going to be a cascade of new technology announcements in the commercial drone space. It is open to the public for a fee.

Leading drone manufacturer Yuneec, will be introducing “the breeze,” a drone made for taking video and images that can be shared via social media through an accompanying app. Intel will be showing the first public demonstration of Aero, Bahr said, which is a ready-to-fly drone sold with a development kit targeting software developers.

 Drone design company Skye Intelligence will unveil Orbit, marketed as “the world’s first social sharing, autonomous drone that follows you on demand.” Drone-servicing companies will also be unveiling new technologies, including Intelligent Energy, which will be exhibiting a fuel cell hydrogen powered drone prototype.

While people are checking out exhibitors there will also be a variety of classes or panels happening at the same time.

“We have over 120 classes and panels,” Bahr said. “It’s really a full place of different options that people can choose from. There are eight classes or panels in every time slot.”

Thomas Wilczek, the defense aerospace industry representative at the governor’s economic development office will moderate a panel Friday about opportunities for minorities in the commercial drone industry.

“We’re very excited that Nevada is going to be there with a booth and moderating a panel,” said Wilczek. “Nevada, Las Vegas, Reno — we’re getting noticed, and we will continue to push the envelope in every way possible to continue to spread that message (that Nevada is a great place for the unmanned aerial system, or UAS, industry).”

Wilczek said he is most looking forward to “the opportunity to find more opportunity” in speaking with the shakers and movers in the commercial UAS industry who will be at InterDrone.

One of the next big business opportunities for the state is in the emerging field of counter-UAS, which is the commercial drone development of defense systems against UAS threats.

“Drones are getting smaller and smaller, and as they get smaller companies have to look at what is the technology to prevent them from moving into spaces that are high security, or critical infrastructure,” said Chris Walach, director of the FAA-designated Nevada Unmanned Aviation

Test Site and the director of technical operations for the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems. NIAS works with the governor’s economic development office and acts as a clearinghouse for drone-related business opportunities.

 “We already have cyberattacks on our computers and cyberinfrastructure, and now you’re going to see a higher cybersecurity involvement in drones,” Walach said. “All of the IT (information technology) companies in Nevada — when they hear ‘counter-UAS’ their eyes light up because they know this is the next frontier for their company.”
Technology is being developed that will allow drones to disable other drones that pose a threat out of the sky by taking control of their radio frequency signal, Walach said.

“Or, there’s certain technology that, when this little drone is flying, they (the defense drone) can shoot it out of the sky, and then it’s toast as well,” he said.

Walach said he is also looking forward to seeing new developments in data processing technology from drones. Right now, he said there’s not a great way to transfer data from drones to the cloud, a server, or brick-and-mortar facility in a timely and organized way.

“Where the Nevada test site, and where NIAS, is going we feel we will be very much part of disrupting that future technology,” he said.

This week’s InterDrone conference is the second-ever. Last year there were 2,797 attendees with nearly 100 exhibiting companies.

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.C-UAS