by Andra Keay
sUSBEXPO is the first conference about unmanned systems to really focus on the growing commercial opportunities of this market. AUVSI put on a spectacular annual show, but it is predominantly military systems. SUSBEXPO is the brain child of Patrick Egan, who is a UAS business consultant, as well as being deeply involved in AUVSI, SUASNews, building on a background with the military and regulatory groups. The conference was held at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco on July 25-26 and attracted attendees from all over the US and beyond. UAVs were on exhibit from companies like 3D Robotics, AgriFlight and MLB Drones, and Patrick Egan is expecting sUSBEXPO to be even larger next year.
The two day speaker list was jam packed with names that few of us have heard of … yet. The conference was also multidisciplinary, attracting end users of drones/unmanned systems, service providers, lawyers, journalists, ethicists and investors. Investment into potentially commercial drone companies is starting to take off: Airware raised $10.7 million in their Series A round from Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, RRE Ventures, Lemnos Labs and Promus Ventures; 3DRobotics raised $5 million in a Venture round from True Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Chris Michel; and Drone Deploy not ready to announce yet, but were the hit of Angel Pad incubator’s recent Demo Day, and the company was founded by ex Google machine learning PhDs. As Bruce Park from Agriflight said when he opened the expo, “It’s like being in Steve Jobs’ garage. It might look like a hobby to some people but it’s about to become a revolution.”