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Learn about UAVs at Farm Progress Show

Dennis Bowman operates drone with controller
IN THE AIR: Dennis Bowman keeps an eye on his drone while operating the controls. He will present a drone demo daily in the Ride ’n’ Drive area.
Check out the latest in drone technology at demonstrations and exhibit booths.

Companies specializing in UAV technology or offering software to interpret image results will show off their products in different ways at the 2019 Farm Progress Show, Aug. 27-29 in Decatur, Ill. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect:

Drone demonstrations. Plans call for companies who want to participate to fly their unmanned aerial vehicles during organized demonstrations each day. UAV demos will be in the Ride ’n’ Drive demonstration area, clearly marked on the show map.

Currently, live demonstrations are slated for 11 a.m. daily. Dennis Bowman, with University of Illinois Extension, organized the demonstrations in 2017, and expects them to operate in a similar fashion this year.

“The Federal Aviation Administration provides strict guidelines on how these demonstrations can be conducted,” he says. “Licensed pilots from each company will fly their UAV. They’re not allowed to go over the exhibit field or people.”

If no companies choose to do live demos this year, there will still be a UAV demo each day at 11 a.m. Bowman will cover the basics of flying drones, as well as fly one during the demo. He’s been working with this technology through Extension since it first appeared on the scene. He’s also current on all FAA requirements to fly drones legally.

Exhibit field lots. Some companies choose to display their products on large, individual lots. Some larger companies, such as Trimble, have offered full-lot displays on the exhibit field in the past. Sometimes, these companies also choose to have a smaller booth in the VIT display area.

If you know the name of the company that makes the UAV you’re interested in, look up the location of its exhibit space in the directory in the program.

At past shows, a few companies chose to demonstrate their UAVs in large, contained cages on their lots. If they fly inside an enclosed area, they can demonstrate their drone, Bowman says.

VIT displays. Since UAVs are typically small, several companies display inside one of the two Varied Industries Tents. Again, look for the name of the company in the directory.

Typically, the representative in the booth will be someone who either has helped develop the drone or who flies it regularly. This person should be able to answer questions related to the nitty-gritty details.

Some companies will also display software needed to turn pictures taken by drones into useful images. Be sure to stop and visit with those folks as well.

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