Hundreds Attend N.C. Drone Summit

GREENSBORO – North Carolina has been “First in Flight” for almost 115 years. Today, “Next in Flight” might be more appropriate, thanks to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation and its work with Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS, or ‘drones’).

Over three days at Greensboro’s Grandover Resort & Conference Center, nearly 400 speakers, exhibitors and conference-goers attended the inaugural N.C. Drone Summit and Flight Expo, hosted by the Division of Aviation.

The summit had a lively, packed schedule of speakers, panel discussions, technical presentations and flight demonstrations. Officials from NASA, the FAA, AUVSI, Intel and NCDOT delivered keynote addresses. Topics included using drones for infrastructure inspection, public safety and environmental monitoring. People from across the industry shared the uses for drones and new technical advancements and ways to stay safe with the technology.

Interest in the summit exceeded NCDOT’s expectations, said NCDOT UAS Program Engineer Darshan Divakaran, who organized much of the event.

“We said at the outset that we would be happy with around 200 attendees,” Divakaran said. “To almost double that shows how much interest and potential there is in this industry here.”

With so much activity around drones in North Carolina, the Division of Aviation wanted a way to bring the various companies, government operators and public safety agencies that use and develop the technology together under one roof. Participants traveled from North Carolina, as well as other states and countries, including Australia and Israel.

“This summit, in a lot of ways, marks the launching point for this industry in North Carolina,” said NCDOT Director of Aviation Bobby Walston. “We got everyone together, talking and learning from each other, making the kinds of connections that can spur this exciting technology forward and continue to create new jobs and opportunities for our state.”

The N.C. Drone Summit and Flight expo will return next year. Location and exact dates will be announced later this year.