Drone delivery, coronavirus lead AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards 2020

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) this month named the finalists in its third annual AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards 2020, which recognize companies, projects and people in the drone industry who have made major achievements over the past year.

The final winners will be announced during the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2020 conference this October in Dallas.

With so many awards to give away, the ceremony will actually be split into two — one on Tuesday, Oct. 6 and the other on Thursday, Oct. 8.

The winners in the Technology Innovation categories will be named at the event on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Here are the finalists for the AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards 2020:


Commercial/Enterprise Operation or Solution 

  • Auterion, Auterion Enterprise Suite 
  • InNovo Partners, LLC, iPaaS – InNovo Platform as a Service
  • Iris Automation, Casia
  • Matternet, Inc., Matternet M2 Medical Logistics UAS
  • UPS, UPS Flight Forward Drone Delivery

Hardware – Platform 

  • Air Force Research Laboratory-led Team, SkyVision Ground-Based Detect and Avoid System
  • Cleo Robotics Inc., Dronut – Next Generation UAV 
  • Elsight, Halo
  • Kongsberg Maritime, HUGIN Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

Hardware – Component 

  • LightWare Lidar, LW45 microLiDAR 
  • Ouster, Inc., OS2-128
  • VectorNav Technologies, Tactical Embedded Series
  • Velodyne Lidar, Inc., Velabit TM
  • Xsens, MTi-680G GNSS/INS with RTK


  • InNovo Partners, LLC, iPaaS – InNovo Platform as a Service
  • SqwaQ, SqwaQbox 


  • Airbus, Project Wayfinder
  • Auterion, Auterion Enterprise PX4
  • Notos Technologies, Pioneering Forever Flight
  • Perceptive Automata, Bringing Human Intuition to Autonomous Trucks
  • Verity, Failsafe

XCELLENCE in Innovation 

  • Airspace Systems, MetroAir
  • Dynetics, The Gremlins Program
  • Emesent, Hovermap
  • Iris Automation, Casia
  • Unifly NV, SAFIR
Some of the awards ready to be given out at the named the AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards from 2018. Image courtesy of AUVSI

Two days later, AUVSI will have a second award ceremony for the Humanitarian and Public Safety categories. The recipients will share $30,000 in prize money. That ceremony is sponsored by DJI.

These are the finalists for the AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards 2020 in those categories:


Humanitarian Project/Program

  • Centro de Innovación de Drones, Medical Cargo Drones Improving Health Services in Rural Communities of the Dominican Republic 
  • Nepal Flying Labs, Drones Optimized Therapy Systems
  • Swoop Aero, Transforming the Way the World Moves Essential Supplies with Aeromedical Drone Logistics
  • UMD UAS Test Site, Human Organ Transplant Delivery UAS
  • WildTrack, Footprint Identification Technique (FIT) 
  • Wingcopter GmbH, Saving Lives through Drone Deliveries

Public Safety

  • Chula Vista Police Department, Drone as a First Responder (DFR) Program 
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation, NCDOT Drone Leadership for Public Safety 
  • Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, Earthquake Disaster Response
  • Swedish Rescue Drones, From a Flying Facebook Group to a Dedicated Search & Rescue Organization Saving Lives
  • Verity, Making Drones Safer with Failsafe by Verity 
Winnrs from the AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards in 2018.

Drone delivery has been a major theme in 2020, and companies or organizations in the drone delivery space span nearly every category. There’s Wingcopter, the UMD UAS Test Site and the Centro de Innovación de Drones in the Humanitarian categories. There’s Matternet and UPS in the Commercial/Enterprise categories.

Especially as coronavirus has initiated a need for contactless deliveries, drones seem to be emerging as a solution, bringing samples between hospital buildings, delivering prescriptions to people’s homes and more. Many drone delivery companies, like finalist Wingcopter, have said that starting with medical deliveries then paves the way to more consumer-focused deliveries.

“Even though we will expand our activities in parcel and food delivery as well, we will always use our cutting-edge technology for the purpose of saving or improving people’s lives, as we believe that advances in technology should not be a privilege of economically developed societies,” said Wincopter CEO Tom Plümmer.

UTM is also a growing focus for 2020 — and the AUVSI awards recognize that too. Another finalist, the SAFIR project by Unifly, is working to demonstrate that multiple drones can be used simultaneously and safely in even the most challenging environments like over cities, ports and near active airports. Their testing has been focused in Antwerp, Belgium.

“The SAFIR project demonstrated both the economic viability and the technological feasibility of incorporating drones in a challenging environment,” said Zakariya Laftit, project manager of SAFIR. “We closely collaborated with the authorities and the other UTM service providers to ensure 100% coverage at all times, including flights beyond visual line of sight. We saw break-through achievements, especially in interoperability and the amount of data exchanged, including operations plans, tracking data and e-identification data.”

This year’s AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2020 conference was postponed and its location was moved due to coronavirus (it was originally set for May 4-7 at in Boston). Most drone conferences this year have also been postponed or gone digital. See a full list of major drone conferences for 2020 and their rescheduling plans here.

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