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, 9:45 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/.


Keynote, Thursday, September 6 – 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.