XPONENTIAL 2023 is next week: 11 things not to miss
Next week is XPONENTIAL 2023, the massive, annual drone event put on by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
AUVSI is the world’s largest nonprofit organization centered around drones. It’s got its hands in FAA groups, it as a huge seat at the table in creating drone policies, and people flock to the annual AUVI XPONENTIAL conference, which is widely considered one of the top drone events in the entire world. An estimated 7,500 people are set to attend.
This year’s XPONENTIAL 2023 is set to kick off on Monday, May 8 and will run through May 11 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Expect a massive wave of drone product launches, corporate announcements and more.
Here are some cool “stats”AUVSI by the numbers” figures estimated to come true at this year’s event, providing a glimpse of just how much you can expect to see:
- 165 hours of educational programming
- 21 workshops
- 78 standalone presentations
- 46 panel discussions
- Roughly 500 exhibitors
Whether you’ll be there in-person to see the new products and get live demos for yourself, or you’re tuning in at home, here are 11 of the top things to look out for at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2023 before it kicks off next week:
1. The official winners of the 2023 AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards
A couple months back, AUVSI gave us the names of the finalists in the 2023 AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards. In it, companies and products are broken down into a few categories — Academic Research, Innovation, Technology and Mission (some of which have their own subcategories) — and so far 43 finalists have been determined. Major, notable names on the finalist list include Skydio, the Ocean Alliance (they tagging whales with drones), drone jammer infiniDome, and the United States Forest Service.
The winners will be announced in a ceremony on Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 1 p.m. local time on the Innovation Theater stage at the Colorado Convention Center.
2. Most of the XCELLENCE products actually on display
One of the most-anticipated aspects of XPONENTIAL is its massive show floor, where hundreds of exhibitors show off their tech in the massive XPO Hall. While it’s hard to narrow down absolutely everything you should see, a good place to start is at the booths of those aforementioned AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards finalists.
Israeli startup infiniDome will be showing off its newly-released GPSdome2 at booth #3113 in the cybersecurity pavilion.
MatrixSpace, which found a spot in AUVSI’s XCELLENCE Awards in the category of Enabling Components & Peripherals for its first-ever product offering, the MatrixSpace Radar, is not far away at booth #3110. Their product claims to be the smallest, lightest and most portable high-performance radar available, opening opportunities for previously unaffordable or completely new applications. The company’s Chief Revenue Officer, Lori DeMatteis, will also be there to host a panel titled “The Next Frontier – Autonomy and Edge Sensing”, being held on Tuesday May 9 at 2 p.m. local time in Room 108.
3. Days of panels and keynotes
Speaking of panels, XPONENTIAL has no shortage of them. There are also eight keynotes scheduled, all centered around the topic “Blueprint for Autonomy” and each intended to explore core themes in the design, operationalization, integration and safeguarding of uncrewed and robotic technologies.
Here are each of the keynotes, broken down by day:
Tuesday, May 9: Brian Wynne (President & CEO, AUVSI), Alex Stamos (Former Chief of Security at Facebook & Professor at Stanford), Michael Robbins (Chief Advocacy Officer, AUVSI) and Tobias Whitney (Vice President of Strategy and Policy, Fortress Information Security)
Wednesday, May 10: Dr. Stephan Keller (Mayor of Dusseldorf, Germany), Acting Administrator Billy Nolen (Federal Aviation Administration), Amy Posey (Founder + CEO, Super MEGA Boss)
Thursday, May 11: Andrew Busch (Economic Futurist and the 1st Chief Market Intelligence Officer for the US Government) and Michael Brasseur (Founder & Former Commodore, Task Force 59, US Navy retired)
See the full conference schedule featuring all the workshops, panels and speakers here.
4. The A2Z Drone Delivery RDSX Pelican: a drone you can actually buy for yourself
Los Angeles-based drone maker A2Z Drone Delivery just announced the release of its latest flagship commercial delivery drone, the A2Z Drone Delivery RDSX Pelican. With the RDSX Pelican’s new hybrid VTOL design, A2Z has extended the range and payload capacity to handle up to 5 kg payloads on up to 40 km routes.
Unlike most delivery drones that are made in-house and not available to the general public, this one is something you can buy for yourself. Hopefully you’re rich though. Prices start at $29,000.
Even if you can’t afford it, it seems as though you can still touch it. A2Z Drone Delivery will first display the new RDSX Pelican at the upcoming AUVSI XPONENTIAL conference at booth #1830.
5. WiBotic’s PowerPad Pro
Just yesterday, Seattle-based WiBotic launched the PowerPad Pro, a charging platform with integrated wireless data offload & transfer capabilities, allowing drones to automatically charge without physical connection points. Wireless charging begins upon landing, upon which data, images, and video are transferred wirelessly in tandem.
It can either be used as a standalone pad or integrated into existing UAV storage facilities (like drone hangars, trailers or truck beds). And in theory, it should support industries including energy, utilities, construction, defense, and agriculture that need to conduct autonomous UAV operations over long distances.
Check it out for yourself, as this brand-new product will be on display on the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2023 show floor.
6. A live demonstration, that’s intentionally remote
Why would you travel all the way to Denver simply to watch a demonstration happening in a differentt state? That’s because autonomous inspection and monitoring solution provider Percepto is hosting a live demonstration of how it can operate drones while being nowhere in the vicinity.
On Wednesday, May 10, it’ll remotely launch an autonomous drone 1,000 miles away at an energy facility in Texas, all to demonstrate Percepto’s AI-powered analysis and insight capabilities. Attendees can view the demo at Percepto booth #3409, near the entrance to the exhibit hall.
Just prior to that, it’s also hosting a panel discussion around how automated inspection is shifting how to manage facilities to be more productive while boosting safety and sustainability.
Percepto was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2021.
7. The Sony Airpeak S1
The Sony Airpeak S1 is one of this year’s most talked about drones. I only just got to see it for the first time this person earlier this year — and now you can to.
AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2023 comes at an especially opportune tune time for Sony, which just this spring launched new, enterprise-focused Sony Airpeak products that transform what was once intended to be a cinematography drone into an industrial powerhouse. New products include a dual-band RTK, lightweight gimbal, and higher capacity batteries.
See it for yourself at Booth #4324.
8. All sorts of networking events (plus food and baseball!)
There is no shortage of networking opportunities at AUVSI. There are the standard coffee breaks, as well as some invitation events. But some of the best events are opening to anyone, and are set to have some great food. Among the top events within XPONENTIAL:
Monday, May 9 at 6 p.m.: This event comes with an additional fee ($125 plus a $10 processing fee), but it is set to be epic. It’s the XPONENTIAL Kickoff Party hosted by the AUVSI Rocky Mountain Chapter, and it’s being held at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies.
Sure, you’ll get to meet other attendees, but for people who care about baseball just a sliver of as much as they care about drones, you can step up to bat in the batting cages and try your hand at pitching in the speed pitching cages. Of course, you’ll also stunning mountain views while enjoying food, drinks, and music.
Tuesday, May 9 at 1:30 p.m.: Here’s a networking event that actually seems fun and fruitful. Called Take 5, attendees are asked to meet 5 new people to exchange ideas and best practices or find 5 good ideas you can take home. And if you participate, you get a free snack, too.
Wednesday, May 10 at 4:30 p.m.: Called Uncrewed Brews, show up to this event at the AUVSI Member lounge for swag giveaways and free drinks. This is open to anyone as long as you’re an AUVSI Member. A standard, one-year individual membership to AUVSI costs $150, though there are discounts if you have certain affiliations (such as student or military), if you also have a FAA certification number or if you commit to more than a year upfront.
See a full rundown of all the XPONENTIAL 2023 networking opportunities here.
9. Video gaming, elevated via the Zephyr flight simulator
The folks from Little Arms Studios, a Virginia-based software company, will be offering demos of their Zephyr Drone Simulator, which is the best excuse you have to play video games out work. This drone pilot training simulator is designed to target enterprise and industrial drone flights (as opposed to other sims that focus on drone racing).
Get some hands-on experience with the simulator yourself (and meet some of the team behind it) at Booth #2024.
Read my full review of the Zephyr drone flight simulator here.
10. 2023 Law-Tech Connect Workshop (the day before)
Here’s incentive to get to Colorado early: While the conference doesn’t officially kick off until Tuesday, there are a number of co-located events that happen the day prior. Among them is the 2023 Law-Tech Connect Workshop. It’s ideal for lawyers and policymakers, as the workshop will cover updates in the laws surrounding multidomain uncrewed commercial and military operations, AAM infrastructure, counter-drone, public-private partnerships, intellectual property and privacy. Check out the full 2023 Law-Tech Connect agenda here.
Other co-located events include AUVSI Defense; AUVSI’s Trusted Operator Program Level 1 Remote Pilot Certification workshop; and the DRONERESPONDERS Forum.
11. Mini golf at Urban Putt
And then for the super eager folks who can’t get to Denver soon enough, here’s perhaps the most delightful event of them all. As part of the aforementioned 2023 Law-Tech Connect Workshop, there’s a bonus networking event happening on Sunday, May 7 from 7-9 p.m. at the Urban Putt on Denver’s 18th Street. Urban Putt is an upscale, indoor mini-golf course featuring a full-service bar with hand-crafted cocktails.
It sounds like there’s no way to kick off your XPONENTIAL 2023 week than via mini golf with drone nerds.
Can’t make it to AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2023 but hoping to make it to another drone event this year? Check out my guide to the top drone events of 2023, which span the entire globe.
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