Embracing UAV Advancements and Challenges at the AUVSI Show

June 21, 2023 | Robert Ortman

Attending the 2023 AUVSI XPONENTIAL show in Denver last month was an unforgettable experience for me, as a Presales Engineer at D-Fend Solutions. The pinnacle of this event was when I had the honor and privilege of accepting a prestigious award on behalf of our company. As I stepped into the award ceremony, the anticipation and excitement grew. Little did I know that this would be just the beginning of an exhilarating adventure at AUVSI. I will share my journey at the AUVSI show, highlight the significance of the CUAS technology on display, and discuss the challenges posed by the ever-evolving regulatory landscape.


Accepting an Award on Behalf of D-Fend Solutions

The anticipation grew as I walked into the award ceremony. The moment of truth arrived when it was announced that D-Fend Solutions was awarded 1st place. It was an incredible honor to accept the prestigious 2023 AUVSI Technology XCELLENCE First Place Award for Hardware & Systems Design and represent D-Fend Solutions in front of a large crowd at AUVSI. This award for Hardware and Systems Design is a testament to the diligent work of the D-Fend team and its amazing ability to innovate in the development of EnforceAir’s technology. This recognition further solidified our position as a leading player in the industry, driving us to continue pushing the boundaries of C-UAS technology.

Advancements in the UAV Industry

The AUVSI show floor served as an interactive display of the incredible advancements being made in the UAV industry. It was remarkable to witness how drones have evolved from hobbyist toys to an integral part of mainstream technology. The event showcased cutting-edge innovations and highlighted the growing importance of unmanned aerial vehicles in various industries. The hybrid model of vertical takeoff and landing, combined with fixed-wing flight emerged as the norm, with numerous exhibitors displaying drones utilizing this hybrid approach. The showcased technologies pushed the boundaries of what was once thought possible. Among these were drones capable of lifting people for transportation, reminiscent of the futuristic concept of flying cars depicted in shows like “The Jetsons.” There were new autopilots, new radars, and new designs around every turn.

Regulations Challenged to Keep Pace

While the UAV industry is advancing at a tremendous pace, it became evident that regulations are struggling to keep up. For example, in the United States, UAS remote pilot operators are currently generally limited to flying aircraft weighing less than 55 lbs. However, the exciting new aircraft showcased at AUVSI often exceeded this weight threshold. A world where a personal flying car is available, but usage is not allowed due to regulatory limitations, would obviously be frustrating. I am sure the delays are related to well-intentioned safety concerns. Safety issues are undoubtedly crucial, and it will be great to see more direct engagement from regulatory bodies in addressing questions and concerns. It’s clear that aligning regulations with the rapid progress of technology remains a challenging task which will require increasingly significant attention.

The Need for C-UAS Technology

The AUVSI show highlighted the significance of the demand for effective Counter-UAS technology. As the UAV industry continues to expand, so does the potential for malicious or careless use of drones. Increasingly common threats such as unauthorized surveillance, smuggling, and potential terrorist activities highlight the need for robust C-UAS solutions. D-Fend Solutions, as an industry leader, is committed to developing and providing effective anti-drone technology that supports the growth of safe and secure drone adoption with innovative solutions that defend against rogue drone threats.

Reconnecting with Old Friends and Building New Connections

Beyond the technological marvels and regulatory challenges, the AUVSI show provided unexpected opportunities to reconnect with old friends. I had the pleasure of seeing my former Executive Officer from the Marines who I had not seen since I was in Afghanistan. He is now working for Boeing. I also met another Marine I served with who has started his own company, Reveal Technology, and is experiencing much success. I was able to meet and keep up connections with a lot of folks I am already connected to around the C-UAS space, and of course I met a lot of new people too. These encounters reminded me of the importance of building and nurturing connections within the C-UAS community.


Attending the AUVSI show, representing D-Fend Solutions, and accepting the coveted award was a thrilling experience. The event showcased the remarkable progress made in the UAV industry, emphasizing that UAVs have firmly entered the mainstream. However, the challenges of aligning regulations with technological advancements were evident. The show provided a platform to reunite with old friends, forge new connections, and strengthen ties within the C-UAS community. Overall, the experience left an indelible mark on me, amplifying my enthusiasm for the UAV and C-UAS industries and their limitless potential.

Robert is a D-Fend Solutions’ Presales Engineer, providing extensive experience in the fields of unmanned and counter-unmanned aviation, integration, Tactics, Techniques and Procedures development, mission planning, aircraft maintenance and site setup. Robert was a Captain in the US Marine Corps, where he was responsible for the supervision and coordination of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. He is a FAA-Certified Air Traffic Controller and Remote Pilot Operator, with active Department of Defense (DoD) SECRET security clearance. With an MBA degree in Aviation from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Robert is an experienced team leader and operator.

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