Xponential 2018 to highlight the use of unmanned systems for good

The unmanned systems market is faster and more competitive than ever before, and this year’s Xponential conference and exhibition will be, too. The show starts and ends with a competition, with plenty of innovation featured in between.
On the weekend before the show, AUVSI will host its first XBuild, a new buildathon/hackathon, from April 28-29 at Galvanize Boulder in nearby Boulder, Colorado.
Hackathons have historically been a place where innovative ideas have been transformed into everyday things; in fact, the Facebook “like” button was created at a Facebook hackathon.
With a theme of “Unmanned Systems for Good,” XBuild will bring together a group of people from the maker and coder communities so they can develop unmanned systems that could serve humanity, such as by simplifying search and rescue.
About 200 participants will take part in XBuild, working from 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 until 5 p.m. the next day to turn their ideas into reality by harnessing the resources provided to them by XBuild sponsors and the unmanned systems community at Galvanize Boulder.
During the time period, participants will be provided food, materials and plenty of internet bandwidth to build whatever they want at the Galvanize Boulder co-working space. They will also have the help of mentors, who will be on hand to provide guidance throughout the process.
Xponential show attendees will get a chance to see the projects during the XPO Hall networking happy hour on Tuesday, May 1. Will something be created during XBuild that will one day become a part of our culture and everyday lives like Facebook’s “Like” button? There’s only one way to find out.
Startup Showdown
Xponential will wrap up with the latest iteration of Startup Showdown, sponsored by Israel Aerospace Industries North America and Genius NY, where early stage, disruptive companies compete for a set of prizes worth $35,000, to help get their technology before investors and the marketplace.
In the Startup Showdown final round, finalist companies will have six minutes each to pitch their business to a panel of judges, and then have a six-minute live question and answer session with the judges. Startup Showdown will be held in the Solutions Theater on the XPO Hall.
The finalists are Asylon, founded by three MIT graduates, which builds automated battery swap stations for drone companies; Copperstone Technologies, founded by three graduates of the University of Alberta, which builds autonomous, amphibious robots; Iris Automation, of San Francisco and Reno, Nevada, which builds sense and avoid systems for commercial drones; Jetoptera, which is developing a suite of unmanned aircraft from sub-55 pound craft to flying cars; and Unifly, spun off from the Flemish Institute for Technological Research, which has developed apps that let drone operators plan and get permission for their flights.
Networking and fun
Between the XBuild and Startup Showdown are three days of keynote speeches, educational sessions, networking opportunities, live demonstrations and yet another form of competition — drone racing.
For the first time, the show will feature drone racing, provided by the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA).  This popular sport is helping push the boundaries of UAS technology and putting a spotlight on highly skilled drone pilots demonstrating safety and professionalism. The drone racing area will be part of the exhibition floor.
The hall will also feature seven international pavilions — from Alberta and Quebec in Canada, China, Denmark, France, Korea and Spain — and eight state pavilions, from Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia, showcasing the national and international reach of unmanned systems.
The overall goal of Xponential 2018 is to demonstrate and showcase the global impact of unmanned systems through three themes spread out across the event.
Each day of Xponential will be built around these three themes and will be highlighted at each day’s keynote: Day one is the Unmanned Economy; Day two is the Unmanned Lifestyle: and Day three is Unmanned for Good.
 “Programming, exhibits and special show features have been created to support these themes,” says Heather Lee, AUVSI’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer.
Another new feature this year is the PechaKucha 20x20 series, part of the Trending Topics track.
“We are offering a new series of lightning round talks addressing key areas of interest to the community, including humanitarian operations, disaster response efforts and drone operations in the arts,” says Lindsay Voss, AUVSI’s director of education.
PechaKucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides — containing images only — are shown for 20 seconds each, or 6:40 in total.
“The format keeps presentations concise and fast paced, and offers a new learning experience for attendees,” Voss says.
AUVSI’s popular Women and Diversity in Robotics discussion returns, helmed by our show host, Sarah Blackmer, president of RAVE Computer.
Xponential 2018 also marks the debut of the AUVSI Xcellence Awards Program, which will recognize significant industry achievement in four areas: technology innovation; operations and safety; training and education; and humanitarian (the last category sponsored by DJI, the leader in the small commercial UAS industry).
The winners will be selected from more than 130 entries.
The Mix
And of course, no Xponential is complete without The Mix, the industry’s premiere networking event.
AUVSI is taking over the Hard Rock Café in downtown Denver for this year’s event. Build personal connections with industry insiders while enjoying live music, plentiful food options, interactive games and a beer garden.
An intersection of cutting-edge innovation and real-world applications, Xponential is the one event that brings all things unmanned into sharp focus. 

Below: Employees of the winner of the 2017 Startup Showdown, uAvionix, accept their award. Photo: Robb Cohen Photo & Video

The winner of the 2017 Startup Showdown, uAvionix, accepts their award. Photo: Robb Cohen Photo & Video