September 6th officially kicks off the InterDrone conference in Las Vegas. After a day of pre-conference sessions, the opening keynote presentation put the Administrator of the FAA and the CEO of Intel on stage to talk, you guessed it, drones!

Intel took advantage of the stage time to demo and promote their latest commercial drone and the FAA shared a bunch of great information on the current and future drone market. I won’t bore you with all the details, let’s just take a quick overview.

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First up, Ted Bahr, the Chairman of InterDrone, took to the stage to welcome us to the event here at the RIO hotel. After a few short remarks the Administrator of the FAA, Michael P. Huerta, was welcomed up to share a few words.

Drones pose a unique and interesting set of uses and problems for entities like the FAA and local administration. Previously, the mayor of a city could easily handle and account for air traffic, an airport is a fairly stationary thing. With the proliferation of small unmanned aerial vehicles, you know, drones, the entire city becomes an airport.

We already knew this. What really matters is that the FAA will be a major step closer to finalizing and implementing new systems by the end of this month. Primarily, faster and automated system for commercial drone authorization.

FAA RegistrationBetter FAA authorization may not affect you as much, but the over 59,000 Part 107 drone license holders in the country sure will appreciate it. Fun fact, over ninety percent of people taking the Part 107 test have passed. Be sure to follow along our work on the subject coming soon to be a part of those numbers.

Recent natural disasters have changed the way the FAA sees drones. They made the effort to approve many waivers to fly drones in restricted and sensitive areas to assist in recovery and search & rescue efforts in Texas.

In the end, the FAA encourages us to work with them, and to be patient. Better systems are coming soon to help the drone market thrive. Actually, the drone market is already the fastest growing segment in the history of the FAA. Keep up the good work.

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The CEO of Intel, Brian M. Krzanich, then took to the stage to talk big data. He certainly talked about more than just data, including their newly updated Falcon 8+ drone, now with RealSense, and their AI efforts. That finished off with a demo of their new post-flight software, Intel Insight, that can handle 3D modeling and more. It can do a bunch more than just 3D model, but that’s a good one phrase description.

Big data is important to Intel. With the power of a drone being able to collect gigabytes of data in just a few short minutes in the air, analyzing that info and putting it to work is what comes next. A pilot could manually scour through video to inspect a building or bridge, but feed that data into Insight to let the systems do some of the work.

The live demo at the show flew the Falcon 8+ across a fake building facade. First it was piloted manually to show of their obstacle avoidance tools, then automatically to show off the Ground Station abilities. Finally, the data from those flights was used to inspect the building. The software identified many issues – some large, like a missing post on a railing, others small, like a missing flag mount in the corner.

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Before calling it quits, Intel was sure to mention their entertainment efforts based around the Shooting Star drone. You’ve seen this before, no doubt, but what really matters is that Intel believes their is no limit to the number of drones they can fly. Previous events had two people share the task of flying up to 500 drones simultaneously. Those two people could command a fleet of thousands, as long as their is enough ground crew around to manage the machines themselves.

To this end, utilizing all of the systems they’ve built, Intel could unleash a search & rescue operation of hundreds, even thousands of drones, to scour a devastated area, map it, use AI to identify victims and more in a short amount of time. Or, you could put just a handful of drones up to quickly survey your rail line, roadway, pasture or crops and more. if you can do it with one drone, imagine what you could do with two, or two hundred or more.

Wrap up

An inspiring opening presentation, we are very excited to see what the many manufacturers and support system companies have in store over the next three days. More than this, were excited for what you and I get to fly at home in the coming months and years.

InterDrone 2017 is underway, stick with us for our coverage of the event.

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