Equipment on display as proof point
Heavy machinery at MINExpo photo Jeremiah Karpowicz

Clearly, the expectations some had built up around what the technology looked and felt like did not line up with reality.

To declare that the scale of MINExpo is humongous doesn’t even begin to paint a full picture of the event. With over 1,900 exhibitors taking up more than 840,000 sq.ft, of exhibitor space in the Las Vegas Convention Center, the show brings together people, tools and expertise from every corner of the mining industry.

The event makes it easy to see and understand that mining professionals want to get a sense for what a particular piece of equipment looks like, and even what it feels like to handle or touch that equipment. Regardless of the product, it was clear that the mining professionals wanted to discuss how these tools actually could be utilized.

As pervasive as drones have become, there are still some that wonder about the true benefits of the technology, either because they’re unsure of what UAVs are actually capable of doing, or they don’t understand how they can make a difference. Some of those people were at the event asking such things aloud, but as soon as they saw the data that’s associated with a drone they understood the true benefit. Using data as the starting place allowed them to see that drones aren’t about doing something especially different or unnecessary. They know what it means to capture and utilize various kinds of data, and thinking of drones as an easier or more efficient way of gathering that data is typically the most effective way of talking through the true benefits.

In fact, if I had to say, I would guess the reason there weren’t more UAVs and drone companies at the event is because Part 107 only recently went into effect. While some had been counting down the days until it became official, others were fine with waiting to see what would happen. With that barrier to entry eliminated, numerous people expressed an interest in drones in a way even they admitted they wouldn’t have done just a couple months ago.

With mining and related industries being considered a hot vertical this is a timely report. Interesting to read Jeremiah’s coverage of the various drone exhibitors (11 were registered) and the questions and discussions he overheard. Clearly this is a very pragmatic audience and addressing their concerns is the key to consideration. The other part is that the UAS systems will need to perform with the same reliability as a piece of heavy gear from Caterpillar to win a permanent place on the world’s
job sites.



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