August 7, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2023

Global Autonomous Systems Conference to highlight Ӱԭ’s Drone Excellence

Gathering will spotlight ACUASI, key experts on the drone economy’s growing potential


ANCHORAGE - The inaugural Global Autonomous Systems Conference (GASC) begins this Wednesday in Anchorage at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. The three-day gathering will highlight Ӱԭ’s status as a drone innovator in the rapidly developing field of autonomous systems and their real-world applications. GASC is jointly hosted by the University of Ӱԭ (UA) and the State of Ӱԭ, and is sponsored by the 
. ACUASI is housed at the University of Ӱԭ Fairbanks, and is one of the nation’s top and most-innovative drone research programs. 

“Ӱԭ’s unique place on the globe puts us at the crossroads of global commerce, transportation, and logistics, making the 49th State the perfect location for exploring the practical applicability of drones in daily life,” University of Ӱԭ President Pat Pitney said. “ACUASI has made UA and Ӱԭ unique players in drone innovation and testing, and I’m thrilled that we can help lead the critical conversations required for autonomous vehicles to be safely researched, developed, and deployed.”

The conference runs from August 9-11, and will include breakout sessions addressing key questions, challenges, and opportunities for the drone industry. Topic areas include emergency management, artificial intelligence, law enforcement, rural community needs, and infrastructure. 

"Thank you to all the speakers joining our Inaugural Global Autonomous Systems Conference," said Lt. Governor Nancy Dahlstrom. "Ӱԭ holds immense potential for drone research. These incredible devices hold economic opportunities for our businesses and industries and are valuable in addressing natural disasters and emergencies. Ӱԭ will remain at the forefront of drone research, utilizing the state's distinctive resources to tackle real-world challenges effectively."

More than 100 industry leaders and experts in the expanding field of air, land, and sea autonomous systems are slated to attend, including:

  • Dr. Cathy Cahill, Director of ACUASI
  • Bryan Cole, director of
  • Elizabeth Soltys, Director of Advanced Air Mobility at Collins Aerospace
  • Vinn White, Senior Advisor for Innovation in the U.S. Dept. of Transportation
  • Michael Cruz, Microsoft’s Director of Data and Artificial Intelligence
  • Commissioner Ryan Anderson, Ӱԭ Department of Transportation
  • Abigail Smith, FAA Executive Director of Policy and Plans
  • Steve "Lux" Luxion, Executive Director of FAA ASSURE
  • John Eberhardt, Chief Technology Officer at ATA
  • Jonathan Bearce, Director of Operations at Merlin Labs
  • Kyle Nordfors, UAS Team Coordinator Weber County Search and Rescue
  • Lorne Cass, President of Aero NowGen Solutions, LLC
  • Bob Brock, Director of Aviation at Kansas Department of Transportation
  • Nettie LaBelle-Hamer, Vice Chancellor of Research at University of Ӱԭ Fairbanks
  • Brian Connon, Vice President of Ocean Mapping at Saildrone
  • Matt Parker, President of Precision Integrated Programs
  • Mark Guiod, Director of Lumark Technologies, Inc.
  • Ben Kellie, Entrepreneur in Residence, University of Ӱԭ
  • Pam Wood, Global CTO of Data and AI at Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • John Younkin, Director Emerging Solutions at Collins Aerospace

“Whether it is using an artificial intelligence camera payload installed on a drone to spot whales, or underwater gliders to conduct physical oceanography research, Ӱԭn researchers are leading the way towards using autonomy to solve real-world problems,” said ACUASI director Dr. Cathy Cahill. “We’re excited to host this conference, and share our expertise with this growing industry.”

The University of Ӱԭ is a land-, sea- and space-grant system of higher education established in 1917. The UA System's three universities (UAA, Ӱԭ, and UAS) are separately accredited institutions with campuses and extended learning centers across the state of Ӱԭ. The University of Ӱԭ is overseen by the Board of Regents, an 11-member volunteer board established through the Ӱԭ Constitution, and responsible for University of Ӱԭ policy and management through the university president.

– 30 –

For more information, contact: