I got a chance to attend the Commercial UAV Show 2016 in London, U.K. on behalf of Skytango. Here are my personal highlights from the event.

The Commercial UAV Show London, organized by Terrapin, is the largest dedicated B2B UAV event outside of the United States in terms of attendance (3,500+ attendees in 2016), exhibitors (70+ in 2016), and speakers (116 in 2016).

Its 3rd edition took place in London, U.K. on Oct. 19-20, 2016.

The Agenda

The event included an exhibition area, conference sessions, panel discussions, workshops, networking breaks and flight demos. It was a packed programme.

The format of the conference included a number of industry experts talking about future UAV development and research, particularly focusing on the challenges of regulation and safety in the skies.

The speakers list featured a balanced mix of companies and institutions, with manufacturers such as SenseFly, Yuneec and Aeryon Labs, all leading innovation in their sector and other companies such as Maersk, Rakuten, DHL, Facebook, BP, and research centers such as Imperial College London and policymakers like FAA, CAA and the European Commission.

The first talks each day were followed by 3 round-table sessions happening concurrently.

On day 1, Infrastructure, Technology and Enterprise streams happened at the same time with three to four presentations being given under those broad headings.

After the round-table sessions, everyone came back together for Regulation and Integration, a presentation followed by a panel discussion on the possibility of a global regulatory framework.

On day 2, the conference began with a Panel Discussion under the heading Redefining Flying. 

As on day 1, the first presentations were followed by a series of round-tables. UAVs in SocietyThe Future, and Safety & Security talks ran concurrently behind three curtained-off conference areas.

These were followed in the afternoon by UAVs and Society, UAVs against the elements and UAVs and Nature running concurrently.

My Personal Highlights

I attended the conference on day 2.

When I arrived I was glad to bump into Ian Kiely and Peter Downey of Drone & Tech Expo Ireland in front of the Yuneec stand. They are busy planning the next Drone & Tech Expo Ireland to be held on Mar. 10-12 2017.

While the conference was going on, there was also an Exhibition area open to the public.

A Photography and Video Workshop ran on day 2, once in the morning and again in the afternoon.

This was aimed at teaching amateur and professional photographers tricks and techniques for using UAVs to enhance their skills.

I happily joined the workshop for the morning session and I found it very stimulating.

The workshop was hosted by Academy Award winning photographer Gifford Hooper of HoverCam, one of the world’s leading aerial filming camera operators.

Here’s hoping my photography skills have improved with all the tips and techniques I picked up from Gifford!

Drone flying took place in the netted off Demonstration Area.

Free seminars could be attended as part of the Exhibition.

These were shared by the Commercial UAV Show and Geo-connect Show 2016, and were similar to the round-tables taking place in the Conference.

On day 1 I missed the Data and Analytics Seminar, Emergency Services Theatre and Mapping and GIS Theatre.

I also missed our partner Gearoid O’Brien, who operates drones for Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue, presenting their work with drones in the Emergency Services Theatre on the first day of the conference. Gearoid’s startup, DroneSAR Pilot, has just partnered with DJI.

On day 2 the seminars focused on Mapping and GIS, UAV Innovation and UAV Photography and Video (Workshop).

Throughout the breaks in the conference, attendees were encouraged to network and view the exhibition.

I met Owen James of the London Drone Film Festival and the Madrid Drone Film Festival while on a break from the conference.

PS.: drone pilots, if you have an epic drone movie why not send it into either festival, Owen is looking for entries for both festivals now.

On the downside, time was a premium while attending the conference and I found it difficult to decide which talk to attend!

Personally, I would have liked less topics, happening in one place with no hopping from one conference area to another – but maybe that’s just me!

I also found I couldn’t hear the speakers if there was a large UAV being demonstrated in the Demonstration area as it was right in the center of the room.

Overall, though, I found attending the Commercial UAV Show very useful and stimulating.

The research into new ways to use autonomous drones along with the willingness of the Regulators like the CAA (U.K. Civil Aviation Authority)  and the FAA (U.S. Federal Aviation Authority) to work with UAV manufacturers in order not to stifle innovation and enterprise is commendable.

I found Eric Hanscom’s talk on Intellectual property for the UAV Industry very thought-provoking.

Besides being a patent lawyer, Eric is also an experienced and avid drone pilot and photographer and carries his Parrot Bebop II everywhere he travels. He also runs the Drone Zone Club, a blog for drone photography and sharing of drone photos.

Drones often get bad press, and Dr. Alan McKenna, Kent Law School spoke on this highlighting a small research project he undertook with four British newspapers in this area.

Phil Anderson, Head of Marine Technology R&D Group, Scottish Association for Marine Science also spoke about how bad PR for drones is affecting how universities do research.

He felt that people who use drones could help alleviate public perception of drones if, while using a drone for research, the researcher handed out leaflets to passersby explaining what the drone was being used for i.e.mapping a beach.

My favourite topic however, was how drones can help in disaster relief and in humanitarian situations.

It was great to see so many UAV companies who are not totally focused on the bottom-line but on benefiting humanity as a whole.

It’s definitely a very interesting event and I’d recommend it to anyone who is operating in the drone industry.