News from AUVSI XPONENTIAL This Week—Buzz, Product Launches, and XCELLENECE Award Winners

BY Zacc Dukowitz
19 August 2021

AUVSI’s 2021 XPONENTIAL conference has been happening this week in Atlanta, Georgia and there have been a lot of releases and partnership announcements made from the conference.

Also noteworthy at the event are the announcement of the XCELLENCE award winners, which recognize accomplishments in four different categories—innovation, operations, technology, and mission.

The last category encompasses UAV work related to drones for good—projects and technology that use drones for public safety and for humanitarian work.

Releases and News from the Exhibition Hall

Here are some of the major releases and news from the exhibition hall this week at AUVSI XPONENTIAL.

Anemoment’s System for UAS-based Atmospheric Flux and Turbulence Research



This week at XPONENTIAL Anemoment released a 3D sonic anemometer made to be carried by a drone (an anemometer is an instrument for measuring the speed of the wind, or of any current of gas). Called the TriSonica™ Sphere Wind Flux Sensor, the new instrument has been designed to deliver more precise vertical wind measurements and provide faster sampling rates for researchers working to understand atmospheric flux and turbulence.

Copterpix Pro’s autonomous patrolling system


We’ve heard a lot lately about the potential for drones in security and surveillance. Copterpix Pro‘s new Autonomous Patrolling System weighs in just under 250 grams, so it can be used with “no CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] regulations,” according to the company. It comes with a docking/charging station, can fly up to 25 minutes, and can patrol perimeters of up to 3 miles in total distance.

Flirtey’s Multiple Drone Delivery System Flight Capability from Kongsberg Geospatial Iris

flirtey eagle drone

A new system created by Kongsberg Geospatial Iris allows one drone pilot to fly several of Flirtey’s Eagle drones at the same time BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) for the purposes of conducting deliveries. Flirtey plans to use this technology to “certify and expand U.S. production of its best-in-class autonomous drone delivery system for last-mile delivery.”

Northwest UAV’s hydrogen powered drone from


Northwest UAV (NWUAV) and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have partnered to create a hydrogen fuel cell prototype designed “specifically for the high power-to-weight ratio and harsh operational requirements of unmanned systems.” Tests of the system are underway, according to a press release issued by NWUAV.

RedTail LiDAR System’s LiDAR for Small Drones


The possibilities of LiDAR-equipped drones have been known for some time, but their implementation on scale has been held back by the weight and expense of most LiDAR systems. RedTail’s new LiDAR system for small drones may be just the thing to bring LiDAR capabilities mainstream. Called the RTL-450 LiDAR sensor, the new system is relatively lightweight and has already been integrated onto the FLIR SkyRaider, Freefly Alta-8, 4D-X6, DJI Matrice 300 and DJI Matrice 600.

Sinclair’s Huge UAV Vehicle


Sinclair Community College’s National UAS Training and Certification Center shared a booth with Flyability at XPONENTIAL this week, and brought along its giant UAV vehicle (shown above).

And during a reception at a brewery hosted by AUVSI the Flyability team conducted a demo of its Elios 2 indoor drone for confined space inspections:

XCELLENCE Award Winners

Every year at XPONENTIAL, AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards are given to leaders in the drone industry in several categories.

The awards were created to honor innovators with a demonstrated commitment to advancing autonomy, leading, and promoting safe adoption of unmanned systems and developing programs that use these technologies to save lives and improve the human condition.

These organizations are at the leading edge of moving our industry toward a future of assured autonomy by supporting the integration of unmanned systems in safe, responsible and sustainable way.

–  Brian Wynne, President and CEO of AUVSI

Here are this year’s winners:

XCELLENCE in Mission

There are three awards granted for each of the two groups in the Mission category, all of which receive $5,000 to support their work. (Unlike the other three categories, there are no 1st, 2nd, or 3rd places for this category.)

Humanitarian Project or Program

Photo from a Nepal Flying Labs project using drones to help control tuberculosis

  • Nepal Flying Labs—for its Drones Optimized Therapy Systems
  • The UMD UAS Test Site—for its Human Organ Transplant Delivery UAS program
  • WildTrack—for its Footprint Identification Technique (FIT)

Public Safety

From an article on Chula Vista’s Drone as First Responder Program

  • The Chula Vista Police Department—for its Drone as a First Responder (DFR) Program
  • DRONERESPONDERS—for its DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Alliance
  • Verity—for its efforts to make drones safer with its Failsafe by Verity

XCELLENCE in Operations

Enterprise Solutions Deployment and Service Provider

UVL Robotics-Inventory Drones
UVL Robotics, Inc.’s inventory drone in action

  • 1st Place—UVL Robotics, Inc., Inventory Drones
  • 2nd Place—PABLO AIR Co., Ltd, PAMNet (Pablo Air Mobility Network)
  • 3rd Place—Volansi, Critical Cold-chain Medical Logistics Drone Delivery in North Carolina

XCELLENCE in Innovation

An image created by Skydio 3D Scan

  • 1st Place—Skydio, Skydio 3D Scan
  • 2nd Place—American Robotics, American Robotics Scout System: First FAA Approval for Automated Remote Operation
  • 3rd Place—Robotic Research, Pegasus Mini

XCELLENCE in Technology

Enabling Components & Peripherals

Sagetech’s MX12B Micro IFF Transponder

  • 1st Place—Sagetech Avionics, MX12B Micro IFF Transponder
  • 2nd Place—Botlink, Botlink XRD2
  • 3rd Place—Hesai Technology, PandarXT-32

Hardware & Systems Design

Embry-Riddle’s Maritime RobotX Autonomous Vessel System

  • 1st Place—Embry-Riddle RobotX Team, Embry-Riddle Maritime RobotX Autonomous Vessel System
  • 2nd Place—Connect Tech Inc., Rudi-AGX Embedded System
  • 3rd Place—SBG SYSTEMS, Ellipse-D

Software Design & Coding

Exyn Technologies’ Industrial UAV Platform

  • 1st Place—Exyn Technologies, ExynAI: Omni-platform Software with Level 4 Autonomy
  • 2nd Place—, Aloft Air Control
  • 3rd Place—SkyGrid, a Boeing, SparkCognition Company, SkyGrid Flight Control

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