Unmanned aerial vehicle conference coming to town next week

More than twice as many vendors – 72—have signed up this year, and attendance on Aug. 26-28 was expected to exceed the 650 people from academia, industry and government who turned out last year, said Maurice “Mo” McDonald, Dayton Development Coalition executive vice president of aerospace and defense.

“I think we’ve reached out more into different sectors,” he said. “I think we’ve spread the word better this year than we did last year.”

Attendees will come from across the country and as far away as Israel.

The conference, a mixture of panel discussions and training, will look at a spectrum of UAS-related issues. The Federal Aviation Administration will update attendees on the integration of unmanned craft into the national civilian airspace; drone experts will talk about privacy concerns; and the U.S. Customs and Border patrol will outline uses of UAVs, among other topics.

In a first at the conference, university teams will fly unmanned aerial vehicles indoors in an Air Force Research Laboratory contest to locate a missing object without relying on GPS-navigation.

“One of the things we wanted to do at this year’s conference was to have a focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — on the university level on down,” he said.

The Dayton Development Coalition and the Wright Brothers chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International organized the conference, now in it’s third year.

An AUVSI study last year projected the UAS industry would create 2,700 jobs and have a $2.1 billion economic impact in Ohio by 2025. Nationally, the industry could create more than 100,000 jobs and pump $82 billion into the U.S. economy over the same time, the association said.The effort to attract more UAS jobs to the region continued Friday with the Coalition announcing Friday it had hired Rich Knoll, an Air Force veteran with extensive experience working for defense contractors, as vice president of aerospace development.

Sinclair Community College will unveil plans Tuesday for the $4 million National Unmanned Aerial Systems Training and Certification Center at its downtown Dayton campus.

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