Coronavirus has impacted the drone industry across the board. For some small businesses, gig workers and photographers, coronavirus has meant a loss of work. For some verticals, it’s actually opened up pathways for more work. And while many drone companies say coronavirus has had little to no impact on their business — after all, a big appeal of drones is that there is no human involved.
But there is one sector of drones definitely affected: conferences.
Many of the major 2020 drone conferences have already announced plans to postpone. Some are carrying on as planned. Some cancelled, and other 2020 drone conferences moved online.
Here’s a breakdown of how the major 2020 drone conferences are adapting to coronavirus (in order of initial conference date):
Flyability User Conference
Originally scheduled for: March 18 and 19, 2020
Original location: The Colorado School of Mines in Denver, Colorado, USA
New plans: Online webinar throughout the months of April and May (and potentially onward)
Flyability was set to host its first-ever U.S. user conference this past March, largely in line with the opening of the company’s first U.S. office. Flyability is a Swiss-based company known for its Elios 2 drone, designed for indoor inspections in industries like oil and gas, power generation, mining and waste management.
The Flyability User Conference conference was cancelled due to coronavirus. Organizers said 200 people had signed up to attend.
Instead, the company plans to host a web-version of the conference via live webinars scheduled throughout April and May.
This week, you can catch a presentation on 3D Modeling with Indoor Drones on Tuesday, April 21 at 10:30 a.m. ET, featuring Andrew McIntyre, Technical Trainer and mapping expert at Pix4D. Register for that live webinar here.
You can find more information about other webinars through their new “User Conference Webinar Series” website here.
Originally scheduled for: April 18-22, 2020
Original location: Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, U.S.A.
New plans: Cancelled
The NAB Show, put on by the National Association of Broadcasters, is a huge conference encompassing not just drones, but the convergence of media, entertainment and technology.
“In light of the current circumstances, it is impossible to hold a rescheduled 2020 NAB Show this year,” according to a statement from NAB.
Instead, the conference is hosting a digital version called NAB Show Express. And, they added that they are already planning for the 021 NAB Show in Las Vegas, which will take place April 11-14, 2021.
AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2020
Originally scheduled for: May 4-7, 2020
Original location: Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
New plans: Postponed until October 5-8, 2020 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.
AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2020, the massive conference put on by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, has been postponed until October 5-8, 2020.
The organizers had originally targeted August for the postponed date, but said, “in our assessment, August was too early for large gatherings and the shift will also allow additional time for restrictions to be safely lifted and some economic recovery to begin.”
The postponed conference also has a new location: the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.
FAA UAS Symposium 2020
Originally scheduled for: June 16-18, 2020
Original location: Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
New plans: Postponed to July 8 to 9 and August 18 to 19, 2020 as a two-part virtual conference
The FAA UAS Symposium is an event hosted in a partnership between the FAA and AUVSI, intended to bring together a cross-section of government and industry representatives about regulations, research, and other initiatives to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System.
But this year, it will be held as a two-part virtual conference. Part one is scheduled for July 8 to 9 with a focus on UAS traffic management (UTM) and international UAS integration. Part 2 is planned for August 18 to 19 with a focus on the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP).
“As a community, we have made significant progress since our last UAS Symposium,” said Jay Merkle, FAA’s executive director for UAS Integration in a prepared statement. “Even in these extraordinary times, it is important to continue our integration work, deliver information on best practices, and discuss innovative approaches to our shared challenges.”
PX4 Developer Summit
Originally scheduled for: Planned after U.S. lockdown restrictions
Original location: N/A
New plans: Held virtually on July 6-7, 2020
The second annual PX4 Developer Summit, a conference for the drone development community, will be held entirely virtually this year — and it’s free to tune in. Hosted by Dronecode, the PX4 Developer Summit is designed for software developers, hardware engineers, system integrators, and academia.
Last year’s even was held at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and was attended by about 200 developers from over 20 countries. This year’s virtual summit already has more than 800 registrants, making it the largest dedicated developer event in the drone industry.
The full event schedule is available on the PX4 website, and everything will be live-streamed simultaneously through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. All sessions will be available after the event on the PX4 Autopilot YouTube channel.
Originally scheduled for: August 18-20, 2020
Original location: Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
New plans: Postponed to December 15 – 17, 2020
Organizers of Interdrone, one of the largest drone conferences in the U.S., announced in May that the conference would be postponed. The event will still be held at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas.
It’s unclear if events and speakers will remain the same for the December version of the conference.
At the beginning of April, Interdrone conference organizers unveiled a long list of speakers confirmed to attend, including two keynote speakers.
In addition to the main show, Interdrone also typically hosts five other co-located events, which are essentially mini-conferences that focus on specific verticals of drones. Those are:
- UAS First Responder Summit
- Inspection Drone Energy and Infrastructure
The Interdrone 2020 conference typically also hosts the annual Women and Drones luncheon, which is where winners of the Women to Watch awards are named. It’s unclear if those awards will still be held given the new date.
Originally scheduled for: August 25-27, 2020
Original location: Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, Calif. U.S.A.
New plans: Moved to an entirely virtual conference from August 25-28, 2020.
AirWorks 2020, DJI’s annual commercial drone gathering, is going 100% digital this year. Online conference events will run from Aug. 25-28, 2020. The original conference was set to cost $749, but the online version will cost between $35 and $99.
Even if you can’t join in on those exact dates, your ticket grants you access to view recordings of all the live sessions for up to a year after the event.
Though if you can attend live, you should. There will live chat and Q&A for each breakout, a chat room for discussions and networking, and opportunities to win prizes through QR codes. All speakers have the ability, at their discretion, to incorporate Q&A into their sessions.
Commercial UAV Expo Americas
Originally scheduled for: Sept. 15-17, 2020
Original location: Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
New plans: No changes
The Commercial UAV Expo Americas is scheduled to go on as planned. Organizers have not yet said anything about any alternative plans, should coronavirus continue to put a damper on travel throughout the year.
That said, Super Saver registration pricing for the full conference pass closes on June 12 (it’s $300 cheaper than buying at the event).
World of Drones and Robotics Congress 2020
Originally scheduled for: Sept. 17 and 18, 2020
Original location: Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia
New plans: Postponed until Nov. 12 and 13, 2020
The World of Drones and Robotics Congress 2020 will go on, but two months later than planned. World of Drones Congress 2020 organizers expect that the robotic applications related to coronavirus will be a hot topic at this year’s conference. The conference organizers just revealed new details about panels and topics, and one of the top themes is “Coronavirus: Post-pandemic Workshop.”
Additionally, the Royal Australian Air Force will World of Drones and Robotics Congress 2020 as a partner, there to emphasize STEM and youth development. They’re joining the conference alongside tthe Australian Army, who has partnered with the Australian drone conference since its inaugural year in 2016.
Amsterdam Drone Week, Commercial UAV Expo Europe and EASA
Originally scheduled for: First week of December
Original location: RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands
New plans: No changes
Drones are a huge event in Amsterdam the first week of December.
A number of concurrent events are happening, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s High Level Conference on Drones 2020 and Commercial UAV Expo Europe. It’s all tied to Amsterdam Drone Week.
And those events are all scheduled to go on as planned.
That said, a spokesperson for the venue, RAI Amsterdam, said that all events between now and June 1, 2020 would be cancelled. But, with December about eight months away, the Amsterdam Drone Week and its related events are scheduled to go on as planned.
If you represent a drone conference and are planning to make changes to your 2020 drone conference plans, let me know so I can update this page. You can contact The Drone Girl here.
Has coronavirus impacted your decision to skip attending any of the 2020 drone conferences that you otherwise would have attended? Tell us why or why not in the comments!