Recapping DroneDeploy Conference 2020: Day Two

October 15, 2020

On October 14th, the fifth anniversary of DroneDeploy Conference wrapped up with a packed day of exciting keynotes, product workshops, and fireside chats. Although entirely virtual this year, our 1,500+ attendees participated in industry-leading seminars and networking opportunities, and were the first to hear about new cutting-edge products directly from the makers themselves.

However, with 90 sessions in total (46 on October 14th), chances are you may have missed some of our panel discussions, industry sessions, and executive speakers. Luckily, all recorded sessions are available online on-demand for up to one year after the conference date. Until then, we’ve created this recap of some of the best conversations for those who couldn’t attend day-of. Here are the most exciting insights that came out of DDC20, day two.

Put your stake in the ground, and execute.

- Vernice “Flygirl” Armour, President, VAI Consulting and Training, LLC

The opening keynote for day 2 of DroneDeploy Conference.

The Future is Here

We started the day with a rousing keynote from ENR 400 construction company, Brasfield & Gorrie. They detailed how they use Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot on their job sites to conduct daily progress walkthroughs, identify issues, record interiors, and share their projects. The development of mobile robots in complex work environments is an innovative first step to reaping drone technology benefits, without conducting aerial missions. When projecting his vision for the future, Innovation & Operations Tech, Jake Lovelace, stated, “Modular design is going to play a huge role in robotics, specifically in construction. The future development of payloads and the software that goes along with it is going to go a long way in helping us tackle all the various challenges that come along with a job site.”

Creating a more mobile job site was a central theme throughout day two of the conference, with multiple sessions dedicated to expanding on this topic. During the “What Future Construction Job Sites Will Look Like” panel, Ben Stocker, Construction Technologist at Skender, described how the Chicago-based general contractor uses laser scanning technology to determine a building’s existing conditions for exact as-builds and MEP coordination. The speakers listed smart contracts, 360 cameras, increased automation, and merged data sets as the wave of the future, along with advancements in drone software.

Our own Co-Founder and CCO, Jono Millin, agrees. “For us, a drone is much more than something that flies; it can walk around, swim, whatever it may be. Collaborative robotics on construction sites is an awesome place to kick this technology off.”

Construction is in the midst of a total digital transformation.

- Tessa Lau, Co-Founder and CEO, Dusty Robotics

A still from the "Solving the Right Problems with Technology" session at DDC 2020.

Solving the Right Problems

An important concept discussed solely on day two was the idea that picking the right problems to solve with technology is just as important as the solution itself. While vast opportunities in construction, energy, and agriculture have opened in recent years, they come with the historical fear of automation. In the session, “Executive Viewpoint: How to Solve the Right Problems with Technology,” PlanGrid CEO Tracy Young explained, “Prioritization is key. Whatever your role is, there’s problems that only you can solve - and we have to prioritize those.” If you’ve hired a strong team, business leaders must trust that their employees are solving problems at the lower level. If the issue reaches an executive, it’s of the utmost importance.

The speakers also emphasized the need to first solve problems critical to your role. For M.G. Thibaut, CFO at DroneDeploy, these are issues in the finance sector. She concurred, “What happens when a company dies? It runs out of money. How do we ensure that we’re investing in the right thing?” Determining whether to invest in people or technology is another pressing concern the executives grapple with. Regardless of your choice, Tracy urges individuals to grow their companies responsibly. Arm your team with the best tools and technology you can, and it will benefit your organization in the long run.

Optelos' sponsored session at DroneDeploy Conference 2020.

Innovations in Product

A highlight for many attendees year-over-year is learning about the radical hardware and software improvements from our organization and partners. This year was no different, as DJI and Skydio revealed their new products, further pushing the boundaries of aerial inspection.

Neil Inman, Vice President of Operations at Optelos, described how the visual data and asset management platform transforms analytics by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to identify risk and reduce inspection time. In the panel, “From Data Capture to AI: Best Practices to Get the Most out of Asset Inspection,” David Tran, CEO of Optelos, added, “Enterprises now have a single, unified platform to manage, correlate, visualize, and apply AI-based analytics to collaborate and deliver those insights across the entire organization.”

In total, attendees enjoyed nine product-focused sessions throughout the course of day two. Various workshops led by DroneDeploy Solutions Engineers took a deep-dive into our most popular features used by a host of industries, including agriculture, construction, and oil & gas. With a comprehensive view of the tools most pertinent to their industry, attendees left with the confidence to optimize their current workflows. Still interested in learning even more about DroneDeploy’s solutions? Check out our October 2020 Product Release.

Our way of working has changed completely. In the last six weeks, we’ve scanned more than eight million square feet of roof, which could not have been done without DroneDeploy.

- Jacques Wagner, GM, Thermographie Du Canada

Day two of DroneDeploy Conference was filled with thoughtful insights, industry-leading innovations, and exciting product advancements. We can’t wait to welcome you back for DroneDeploy Conference 2021! In the meantime, be sure to check your inbox for access to these recorded sessions.

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