News and views
17 Mar 2016

Drone Fair 2016

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The first ever annual Drone Fair was held on February 20th at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Burnaby campus. The fair gave students and the public an opportunity to learn about the UAV industry, including regulations and career opportunities.

Aerobotika was there with a booth for the Academy and one for our online store, Connor, Bryan, Josh, Chris, Leilani, Jim, Kate, and Paul were all there and were swamped with great questions and inquiries about our products and services.

We even got to unveil our new mapping drone, the Lift Robotics PM81!

We had a draw for a free ground school course. Congratulations to Jeff Lew for winning.

We spoke with Declan Sweeney, Founding Partner and Technical Director.

Declan is one of the co-founders of Drone Fair and has an extensive background working with unmanned vehicles, mainly in mining applications. Declan estimates that the technology was around 99% military up to the mid-2000’s.

He has been involved in pushing for civil commercial applications and has also been involved in the development of drone regulations and has worked with Unmanned Systems Canada (USC).

The Drone Fair came about from Declan’s observation that there is a need to raise awareness about the drone industry and related regulations. He partnered with Stephen Watts, who works in the technical area of the entertainment sector, to promote the idea of running a fair. He credits Stephen as playing a “vital role [in] Drone Fair’s success” with his contributions to getting media attention for the event and notes that “it was very much a joint project”.

The main aim of the fair was to provide information about the industry and to allow industry insiders an opportunity to learn how they could support those with an interest. The agenda included presentations on safety, regulations, and privacy laws.

He chose to partner with BCIT as host of the fair “to promote the educational aspect”, as the institution teaches industry subject matter in some of their programs (e.g. Aerospace and Mining).

On the more fun side, there was drone racing. Who doesn’t love a good race! The Grand Prix race took FPV racing to new heights with some of BC’s best pilots.

Pilots were chosen based on their performance in local races such as those put on by Never Hover FPV Racing. Eight racers squared off in two heats along the oval circuit racetrack, and spectators were able to watch on a big screen. Pilot Armonic was crowned Champion of Drone Fair Grand Prix. Very exciting!

The University Challenge race had four teams representing UBC, BCIT, SFU, and SFU Guardian compete in a skills competition of drone design, problem solving, and flight. The grand prize, a $2,500 scholarship donated by DJI / Flying Cameras, was won by Team SFU Guardian. Wow!

Declan reports Drone Fair 2016 was a big success with a healthy turnout and attracted attendees ranging in age from early teens to mid-forties. He notes that based on early ticket sales, buyers were mostly females, but in the end, the fair had 95% male attendance. This concurs with reports that the industry is male-dominated in terms of interest.

Check out Global News coverage of the fair. Photos and videos will be available shortly on the fair website.

Mark your calendars for
Drone Fair 2017!