Alliance Blog

Drone Ecosystem Symposium Draws Air Mobility Leaders to SoCal

On the morning of March 21st the Alliance and Mitsubishi Electric (MELIC) joined forces once again for the Second Annual Drone Ecosystem Symposium held at the Cove at UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Forty corporate leaders and drone technology visionaries gathered for a day of presentations and discussions on Advanced Air Mobility. Though the audience hailed from all over the globe, the discussion tied closely to Southern California’s commitment to lead in this field especially given the focus areas of Healthcare Delivery and Wildland Fire Operations. 

The morning kicked off with a presentation by Zafer Sahinoglu, VP of Innovation at MELIC, that profiled AnyMile, an end-to-end drone-based logistics platform. This impressive multi-sided Saas platform brings together the essential technologies and services needed for successful management of drone-based businesses including support services and logistics. In a true collaborative effort, AnyMile provides a solution for shipment, fleet, and service management. 

Following Zafer’s presentation, the AnyMile team provided a live demonstration within a meticulously crafted miniature city environment, showcasing the swift delivery of critical medical supplies between facilities (see photo above). Chris Myers, from the AnyMile team, piloted the drone with finesse, highlighting the potential efficiency and efficacy of drone-based logistics in healthcare delivery. 

Shifting gears, the group then turned its focus to Wildland Fire Operations for a presentation by Joey Mercer, Chief Engineer at NASA. Joey discussed the damage, risk and impact of wildfires and described the latest initiative in NASA’s Advanced Capabilities for Emergency Response Operations (ACERO). Echoing the efforts of AnyMile, the ACERO initiative involves collaboration across many agencies and industries. 

Erik Mintz, Director of Mobility Infrastructure at MELIC, closed out the presentation portion of the morning with a talk on Categorical Dynamics and the importance of defining a dominant label and design in emerging industries such as Advanced Air Mobility. 

Erik’s presentation led easily to an open discussion with the full group on issues affecting the present and future state of air mobility. Though primarily broadly focused, the group did begin brainstorming on the two focus topics just before breaking for lunch.

After a relaxed lunch that included a live demonstration by Pedro Meneses, CEO of Aerialoop and his team in Quito, Ecuador, the guests divided into one of two consortiums in a unique and exciting opportunity to work on the framework for a BAA whitepaper to be submitted to the FAA. Each consortium, one concentrating on Wildfire and the other on Healthcare, produced a robust outline thanks to the truly collaborative, and novel thinking of the participants in each session.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the symposium concluded with a buoyant cocktail hour, where conversations sparked during the day found their crescendo. The Second Annual Drone Ecosystem Symposium had not only fostered collaboration but also sowed the seeds for a future where drones revolutionize air mobility in ways previously unimaginable.

In retrospect, the symposium stood as a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in shaping the future of air mobility. With each passing year, the boundaries of possibility in drone technology continue to expand, promising a future where the skies are not just navigable but a conduit for progress and prosperity. It is exciting to have SoCal playing a critical leading role in the development of this emerging industry.