Members from government organizations, industry and academia from across southwest Virginia recently convened in Blacksburg to meet, share ideas and present their research results in advances in uncrewed systems and the partnerships that make them possible at the 2022 AUSVI Ridge & Valley Conference.

An essential element in the advancement of uncrewed systems is partnership. Robotic systems are increasingly interconnected with each other and with the people who use them. Research partnerships spawn transformational new technologies. Workforce development partnerships provide a reliable flow of adaptable, well-trained workers. Economic development partnerships create conditions to accelerate commercial growth.

Seventy engineers and researchers as well as students from top universities gathered in late October on the campus of Virginia Tech, to interact, learn about each other’s work and exchange ideas. Topics ranged from enabling drone technologies and applications; to drones and the atmospheric environment; and health and medical sensing and robotics.

Headline speakers included Dr. Jaret C. Riddick, Principal Director for Autonomy, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and David Tyler, VP of Production and Manufacturing for Microlink Devices, a leading designer and manufacturer of advanced solar cells.

Day two featured industry displays and demonstrations and a student symposium held at the Virginia Tech Drone Park.

The 2022 Ridge & Valley Conference was made possible by the generous support of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, The Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, Wing, Kollmorgen, Torc Robotics, Aeroprobe, Montgomery County, Virginia, Inertial Labs, Virginia Tech’s Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, Virginia Tech’s Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture, New River Community College, Autonomous Flight Technologies, Pinnacle Financial Partners, the Mitchell Firm, Techsburg Engineering, Cowden Technologies and the Virginia Tech Center for Economic and Community Engagement.