Drone summit shortens days, expands future events to draw more people

ajc.com

An unmanned aerial systems conference that brought hundreds of attendees to Dayton has shortened the number of days and added drone-related events this year in a change in format, organizers say.

Midwest UAS will be a half-day conference at the Dayton Marriott hotel on Wednesday.

The format is a switch compared to prior years when the event was two days and the location was the Dayton Convention Center or Sinclair Community College.

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Launched in 2012 as Ohio UAS, the gathering once attracted as many as 700 attendees and 70 vendors, but those numbers dropped in subsequent years to around 400 attendees and 40 vendors as the summit competed with similar conferences across the country, organizers have said.

“We had feedback from a lot of smaller businesses that two days is a significant draw of time,” said John Ingham, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of aerospace programs. “We thought a more focused event would capture the attendees for the entire conference and get our messaging out.

“When you calculate everything into our decision, the significantly increased number of UAS (conferences) does make a draw on all of the businesses and organizations that attend these so they have to prioritize,” he said.

Ingham said the number of Midwest UAS events will rise over the next year tapping into aerospace industry and research in the Dayton region.

“Our objective is that our attendance will actually increase over the course of the year because there will be multiple events and we will use our resources in the region that other other regions don’t have,” he said.

On Wednesday, presenters will update attendees on beyond-line-of-sight drone testing in Ohio, building a UAS business, drone use in public safety and law enforcement; and Air Force Research Lab work on drone technology, among other topics. The conference, which is free, is set from noon to 5:30 p.m. As of Monday, about 250 people had registered.

For more information and to register, log onto www.uasmidwest.org. The Dayton Development Coalition and the Wright Brothers Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International organized the summit.

Midwest UAS-affiliated events over the next year will include a demonstration of Air Force Research Laboratory ground-based sense and avoid and beyond-line of sight technologies, among other future plans. “We don’t look at it as a retraction, we look at it as an expansion,” he said.

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Separately, the 2017 Unmanned Systems Academic Summit launches Tuesday at Sinclair Community College has reached a record number of attendees.

More than 100 people, from six states and Israel, are expected, the most in the conference’s three-year history, said Andrew D. Shepherd, Sinclair’s director of unmanned aerial systems.

Partnering with the Ohio State University College of Engineering, the summit will target training, education, and research programs and show live drone-related demonstrations.

Academic lectures were set for morning sessions. Technology demonstrations were scheduled in the afternoon at the National UAS Training and Certification Center at Sinclair in downtown Dayton, Shepherd said.

“I think that just makes it a lot more tangible for people to actually see some of the examples we’re talking about in the industry,” he said. “Even though it’s called an academic summit it’s designed to have something of interest for everybody.”