Keynote Speakers

The best and the brightest in the industry come to speak at InterDrone and share their visions for the future of drone development and use around the world. InterDrone is host to over 15 keynotes, so stay tuned as more are added!

Grand Opening Keynote, Wednesday, September 5, 9:50 am – FAA

Daniel K. Elwell is the Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In this capacity, he is responsible for the safety and efficiency of the largest aerospace system in the world — a system that operates more than 50,000 flights per day. He oversees a $16.4 billion-dollar budget, more than 47,000 employees, and is focused on ensuring the agency and its employees are the best prepared and trained professionals to meet the growing demands and requirements of the industry. Mr. Elwell also oversees the FAA‘s multibillion-dollar NextGen air traffic control modernization program as the U.S. shifts from ground-based radar to state-of-the-art satellite technology.

Prior to serving as Acting Administrator, Mr. Elwell was the Deputy Administrator of the FAA. President Trump announced the appointment of Mr. Elwell as the Deputy Administrator in June 2017 and he was sworn in to office on June 26, 2017.

Elwell previously served at the FAA as the Assistant Administrator for Policy, Planning, and Environment from 2006-2008. Most recently, he was Senior Advisor on Aviation to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. Earlier in his career, he served as a legislative fellow for the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

From 2013-2015, as Senior Vice President for Safety, Security, and Operations at Airlines for America (A4A), Elwell was responsible for leading the advancement of commercial aviation safety and security excellence for major U.S. air carriers.

Prior to A4A, Elwell was Vice President of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) from 2008-2013. In this role, Elwell represented civil aerospace manufacturers and led policy development and advocacy for the civil aerospace manufacturing interests of more than 300 AIA member companies.

Elwell was a commercial pilot for 16 years with American Airlines, flying DC-10, MD-80, and B-757/767 aircraft. While maintaining his proficiency as an MD-80 Captain, he served as Managing Director for International and Government Affairs at American Airlines.

Dan earned his pilot wings at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in International Affairs. Lieutenant Colonel Elwell retired from military service as a Command Pilot with more than 6,000 hours combined civilian and military flight time in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air Force Reserve, including combat service during Operation Desert Storm.

The Acting Administrator’s keynote and any other speaking engagements by FAA or government employees should not be construed as endorsements of InterDrone over other brands in the UAV community. Information about the FAA’s regulations and industry updates are publicly available all year round and can be found at https://www.faa.gov/.


Grand Opening Keynote, Wednesday, September 5, 10:10 am – PrecisionHawk

Michael Chasen is the CEO of PrecisionHawk, a leading provider of drone technology for the enterprise. Prior to PrecisionHawk, he was the co-founder and CEO of Blackboard (NASDAQ: BBBB), a leader in the global eLearning space. He grew Blackboard to serve over 30,000 institutions worldwide, had 3,000 employees and 20 offices around the world. Michael took Blackboard public in 2004 and ran it as a public company for 7 years before selling to Providence Equity Partners for $1.7B. Michael then started SocialRadar, a company specializing in improving location accuracy on SmartPhones, which he sold to Verizon in 2016.


Keynote, Wednesday, September 5, 5:30 pm – 3DR

Chris Anderson is the CEO of 3DR, founder and chairman of the Linux Foundation’s Dronecode Project, and founder of the DIY Drones and DIY Robocars communities, including the ArduPilot autopilot project. From 2001 through 2012, he was the Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine. Before Wired, Chris was with The Economist for seven years in London, Hong Kong and New York.

Chris is the author of the New York Times bestselling books “The Long Tail,” “Free,” and “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.”

His awards include: Editor of the Year by Ad Age (2005). Named to the “Time 100,” the newsmagazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world (2007). Loeb Award for Business Book of the Year (2007). Wired named Magazine of the Decade by AdWeek for my tenure (2009). Time Magazine’s Tech 40 — The Most Influential Minds In Technology (2013). Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers (2013)

Chris founded GeekDad, BookTour and a few other companies now lost in the mists of time. His background is in science, starting with studying computational physics and doing research at Los Alamos and culminating in six years at the two leading scientific journals, Nature and Science.

In his misspent youth, Chris was a bit player in the DC punk scene and, amusingly, a band called REM (not that one). He lives in Berkeley, California, with my wife and five kids.


Keynote, Wednesday, September 5, 5:50 pm – Loveland Innovations

Jim Loveland is a battle-tested business executive and innovator who has founded, grown, and led several extremely successful companies. Jim has lived and breathed the tech industry for almost 30 years and is passionate about pioneering technologies that will streamline and transform industries. Jim holds a BS in Computer Science from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Utah, both of which helped empower his success at the helm of companies like Xactware, where he served as its president and CEO for ten years, and Verisk Analytics. Jim is currently channeling his passion to succeed at his latest venture, Loveland Innovations. Their solutions blend data analytics, A.I., and drone flight to arm roofers, solar surveyors, and insurance pros with high quality data, more speed and safety, and better decision-making power.


Keynote, Wednesday, September 5, 6:10 pm – Loveland Innovations Scholar Farms

Dr. Greg Crutsinger is the founder of Scholar Farms, which specializes in using multi-spectral cameras & drones for vegetation mapping. The company was founded from extensive experience in academic research and teaching, as well as the commercial drone industry. Prior to Scholar Farms Greg was the Sales Director for the scientific and academic verticals at Pix4D and Parrot, and the Academic Programs Director at 3D Robotics. While serving academia, Greg was an Assistant Professor of Ecology at the University of British Columbia. Greg received his PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville, and was named Miller Postdoctoral Fellow of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the Univ. of California, Berkeley.

Emergency Drone Data: Lessons Learned from California’s Wildfires

Dr. Gregory Crutsinger was the UAV data analyst for the public safety drone teams on the Carr fire in Redding California, as well as the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa. These were two of the largest wildfires ever to hit California. He will discuss rapid drone data tools and techniques used during these emergencies, as well as how to improve on these methods for the next disaster.


Keynote, Thursday, September 6 – AirMap

Gregory S. McNeal, JD/PhD, is Professor of Law and Public Policy at Pepperdine University. He co-founded AirMap, whose platform provides airspace information and services to drone operators, drone manufacturers, software developers and aviation stakeholders throughout the world. Opening airspaces previously inaccessible to drone operations.

Greg is an expert on drones and topics related to technology, law and policy. He is a nationally recognized commentator for Forbes, and a frequent keynote speaker at industry events and academic conferences related to drones, technology, law, and public policy. He has on multiple occasions testified before Congress and state legislatures about the legal and policy issues associated with drones and has aided state legislators, cities, municipalities, and executive branch officials in drafting legislation and ordinances related to drones. He served on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Registration Task Force, Aviation Rulemaking Committee, and the Remote Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee.

He previously served as Chair of the Consumer Technology Association’s Industry Standards Working Group on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (R6 WG 23) and as a voting member of the ASTM technical committee creating scientific standards to govern unmanned aircraft and their operation. He has advised drone start-ups, sensor manufacturers, law enforcement, consulting firms, insurance companies, and Fortune 500 companies about the legal and regulatory issues and benefits associated with emerging technologies.

Opening Up the Skies for Drones: Why Innovation, Disruption and Collaboration are Key

Drones are already being used to transport medical supplies, inspect critical infrastructure, and for post-disaster recovery, but there isn’t a clear air traffic management system that allows for these and other more complex operations to scale.

Right now, NASA, the FAA, DoT and the rest of industry are working together to create an equal balance between innovation and regulation and set up a regulatory framework to open up the skies for drones. Progress, however, also lies in our ability to provide drone operators with seamless access to advanced flight tools that enable advanced operations such as beyond line-of-sight and night-time visual capability.

This keynote will illustrate why collaboration between the state and local governments, disruption by private and public companies, and collaboration between local and global communities is key to opening up the skies for drones and how other countries are setting the pace for innovation in the commercial drone sector.


Keynote, Thursday, September 6, 1:45 pm – Auterion

Lorenz Meier, holds a Ph.D. on drone software architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He is the Co-Founder of Auterion, the enterprise drone software platform.

In 2008, Lorenz created and released as open-source PX4, the autopilot for autonomous drone control. Lorenz is also the creator of Pixhawk, MAVLink and QGroundControl.

Lorenz has been working in the drone and robotics industry for the past 10 years and in 2017 he was nominated MIT 35 Innovators under 35 for PX4 by MIT Technology Review. Lorenz received several other awards and fellowships for his work. In 2016 he received the ETH Pioneer Fellowship, in 2014 Amazon Prime Air gift/fellowship, Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship in 2012, ABB Industry Award in 2011, the 1st place in the EMAV 2009 indoor competition together with his team and the ETH Excellence and Opportunity Award in 2008. Lorenz is also board member and community director at Dronecode, the organization that defines the open source standards in the UAV industry.


Keynote, Thursday, September 6, 1:45 pm – Esri

Lorraine Tighe is currently the Senior Imagery and Remote Sensing Product Strategy and Marketing lead at Esri. She has been involved with Earth Observations research for topographic and geological mapping and forestry applications for the past 20+ years. Dr. Tighe’s research have been focused on IfSAR/InSAR and Drone data to estimate canopy and terrain height over diverse environments and large geographic extents common in North America. She is the co-author of the ASPRS DEM User’s Manual Chapter 7 (3rd edition), a chapter on DEMs derived from IFSAR. Lorraine Tighe has a Ph.D. degree in Earth Sciences, a Remote Sensing graduate diploma, and a B.Sc. degree in Physics and Geology.


Keynote, Thursday, September 6, 1:45 pm – Pix4D

Trent Casi has over 16 years of solutions experience in the geospatial industry. He has most recently supported the global energy sector including solar, oil/gas, and utilities the past several years. He has worked extensively with aerial camera sensors and global geospatial data. He has served as past president and vice-president of the American Society of Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry for the Rocky Mountain Region. Trent has worked with high resolution imagery collections with custom aerial and LiDAR sensors as well. Trent received a BS degree in remote sensing from the Pennsylvania State University. Trent resides in the geospatial alley hub of Denver,CO.


Keynote, Thursday, September 6, 5:05 pm – NASA

Dr. Joseph Rios serves as the Chief Engineer for NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) project. He has been with NASA since 2007 and generally focuses on computational and data issues related to the National Airspace System. He has worked on large-scale optimization models for traffic flow management, data exchange schemas for air traffic, and tools for general aviation pilots flying in remote locations. Joseph’s dual undergraduate degree in pure mathematics and film/video theory affords him the ability to write a formal proof that Cool Hand Luke is one of the best films of all time. Teaching high school in Papua New Guinea for two years via the Peace Corps taught him (amongst other things) that his body is not built for the tropics. Following the Peace Corps, Joseph obtained his M.S. in Computer Science from Cal State Hayward, followed by a PhD in Computer Engineering from UC Santa Cruz. He feels strongly that writing about oneself in the third person is a lost art. He has used various forms of this joke many times and he will continue to do so.


Keynote, Thursday, September 6, 5:25 pm – UNICEF

Judith Sherman is currently the Chief of HIV and AIDS at UNICEF Malawi. Her career in international public health began in 1988. She has been living in Africa since 1992, including Guinea, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Her interest in using drones to advance health outcomes began in 2014 with an in-flight magazine and a casual conversation with a drone enthusiast colleague. In 2016, Judith launched UNICEF’s first drone initiative – a feasibility study on using drones to transport laboratory samples for early infant diagnosis of HIV. Since then, she has led efforts to establish Malawi’s drone regulations, develop Africa’s first humanitarian drone air corridor, use drones for emergency preparedness and response, and build local capacity to integrate drone operations and drone-acquired data into development.

Judith is passionate about using drone technology in ways that benefit communities, while also providing competitive market opportunities.

Judith holds a Master’s in Business Administration from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s of Science in International Politics from Georgetown University.