American drone maker Skydio to host first-ever keynote (and there’s a virtual version too)

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Skydio has long piqued the interest of the drone industry as an American drone maker that could disrupt a market that’s otherwise largely dominated by DJI. And for folks looking to see behind the Skydio current, here’s a golden opportunity: a free-to-attend keynote hosted by Skydio itself.

Dubbed “Ascend,” it’s an in-person and virtual event hosted by Skydio, set for Wednesday, Sept. 20. The keynote, which will be broadcast online for free to those who register, will run from 9 -10:30 a.m. PT.

Skydio is calling it “the drone event of the year.”

The Ascend keynote will be led by Skydio CEO Adam Bry, who will share information around Skydio’s latest innovations, the future of drones and AI-enabled autonomous flight.  Other keynote speakers will include New York Police Department Chief John Chell, Kansas Department of Transportation Director of Aviation Bob Brock, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company Vice President Jason Regan.

Attendees will be able to ask direct questions to these experts, as well as get to hear exclusive insights from Skydio’s product team. There are nearly a dozen other, additional speakers on the docket — most of whom will share how they are using drones via real-world examples.

View the event trailer here:

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Register for Skydio’s Ascend event to watch the keynote live here.

Why all eyes are on the Skydio Ascend conference

Skydio — which is based in California’s Silicon Valley — took a major turn in August 2023 when it announced that it was sunsetting its consumer drone division, which made the beloved Skydio 2 drone. But things are hardly over for the company that wowed the drone world with its follow me drone that sold for less than $1,000.

If Skydio’s upcoming Ascend keynote is any indication, the company is just getting started.

This is the first event of its kind hosted by Skydio, and it’s set to provide key insights into the newfound direction for the company, which is a focus entirely on the enterprise sector. In fact, Bry said last month that Skydio’s decision to kill its consumer drone arm was to give its full attention to enterprise and public sector customers.

American customers have now — more than ever — sought homegrown drones. Some of that’s out of necessity, such as the American Security Drone Act which is a bill proposed in February 2023 by Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida that would prohibit most federal agencies from using drones manufactured in China. That all comes at the same time that China has imposed its own restrictions on exports of long-range civilian drones.

Buy American sentiment is strong especially in the drone industry right now, which sets companies like Skydio up well.

Enterprise is a huge market for the drone industry

Skydio’s Ascend event will all be about the enterprise drone market, which is where experts expect the drone industry to see growth.

In fact, German-based drone analytics group Drone Industry Insights (DII) predicts that the commercial side of drones will see a 7.7% compound average growth rate (CAGR) through 2030. That’s in contrast to the recreational side of the drone industry, which DII said it expects will “essentially remain stagnant.” In fact, DII’s latest Drone Market Report 2023 predicts the consumer side might actually slow between now and 2030, given a CAGR of -0.3%.

So what areas within the commercial side is Skydio hyperfocused on? For now, Skydio said it’s looking at common use cases such as:

  • Infrastructure Inspection: To help reduce the need for expensive equipment or worker exposure while dramatically increasing data capture efficiency compared to manual drones.
  • Emergency response: To offer public safety operators tactical situational awareness on emergency response, search and rescue, or firefighting missions.
  • Intelligence and Reconnaissance: To help defense units conduct organic unit-level missions with greater situational awareness while reducing cognitive overload on the operators, thanks to AI-pilot assistance.

Other standout names using Skydio drones include the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, which is using Skydio drones to document instances of destroyed civilian infrastructure, and evidence of human rights abuses on frontline communities and liberated territories committed by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. And earlier this summer, Skydi received approval from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to remotely fly drones using Skydio Dock and Remote Ops beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Among the company’s American projects include an effort with the Alaska Rural Remote Operations Work Plan (ARROW) Program to test BVLOS flights around rural Alaska communities, and a partnership with natural gas company Dominion Energy.

For now, Skydio says it has more than 1,500 enterprise customers. Given the developments in the commercial sector coupled with Skydio’s newfound emphasis solely on enterprise drone operations, that figure looks set to grow.

Over here at The Drone Girl, we’ll be watching the news to come out of Ascend rather closely. And if you want to hear it live for yourself, register to participate in Skydio’s Ascend event for free (either in-person or online) here.

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