Autonomous Nation

Driving Autonomy in Agriculture

Autonomous Nation is a conference bringing together the best and brightest minds in the autonomous industry. Join influential stakeholders, industry entrepreneurs, and innovators leading the way in advancing autonomous technology!

From tackling workforce shortages to eliminating inefficiencies and bridging technology gaps, this conference will showcase the latest innovations and solutions that will shape the future of our industry. We will also feature several live demonstrations to showcase the latest technology in real-time and real- world demonstrations!

September 12, 2024

The event will be held during Big Iron at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. Getting into Big Iron is free, but you will need a ticket to get into the Autonomous Nation Conference.

Conference Goals

  • Showcase latest technologies: Serve as a platform to showcase cutting-edge technologies in the autonomous ag industry.
  • Bridge technology gaps: Facilitate discussion and collaboration aimed at bridging gaps in the autonomous ag industry.
  • Address workforce shortages: Explore how autonomous technologies can help mitigate workforce gaps
  • Real-time demonstrations: Showcase the latest technology in real-time and real-world demonstrations.

Topics to Cover

How do we bridge the gap with existing infrastructure and practices to reach the next level of autonomy?

Adaptability and scalability of autonomous systems:

Discuss how autonomous systems can be designed to adapt to diverse agricultural environments and scale effectively to different farm sizes and types.

Use cases of autonomy in agriculture:

What are different types of autonomous applications in ag both on farm and off farm?

Integration with existing infrastructure and practices

Exploring strategies for integrating autonomous technology with existing equipment, workflows, and agricultural practices to minimize disruption and maximize efficiency gains.

Data management and connectivity:

Addressing challenges related to data collection, processing, storage, and connectivity in rural agricultural settings, and showcasing innovative solutions and best practices for managing agricultural data effectively

Reverse pitch sessions

What are the challenges that growers and industry want to see solved that autonomy can solve?

People talking next to autonomous technology.
A robot.

2023 Schedule

Conference Introduction and Sessions

Microsoft Fargo Campus: Commons Building 4550 42nd Ave S, Fargo, ND 58104

Panel: AUVSI Green UAS Cybersecurity Certificate Program

“AUVSI’s Green UAS is a solution to existing cybersecurity and supply chain verification challenges and will serve the UAS community, end-users, and federal partners,” said Michael Robbins, Chief Advocacy Officerr at AUVSI. “This falls squarely in line with our mission to drive a safe and secure UAS market demand and provide a more competitive marketplace for all.”

Speaker: Michael Robbins, Chief Advocacy Officer, AUVSI

Moderator: Renee Shelton; President AUVSI Great Plains Chapter and AVP Corporate & Foundations Relations, UND Alumni Association Foundation


  • Michael Robbins; Chief Advocacy Officer, AUVSI (Perspective Program and National Defense Authorization Act)
  • Erin Roesler; Director of Operations, Northern Plains Test Site (Policy / FAA)
  • Matt Dunlevy; CEO Aethero and CEO ND UAS Council (Perspective Business Operator)
  • Paul Snyder; Assistant Chair and Director, UND UAS Program Aviation Department, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences (Academic)
  • Mark Askelson; AVP Research National Security, UND (Perspective National Security and Cybersecurity

TechConnect Education Workshop

The TechConnect Workshop, for students and educators only, will connect educators and students with professionals representing different careers in technology and the autonomous industry, and resources available in our region to learn more.

Conference Sessions

Panel: How We can Bring Aerial Applications to Ag

This panel will focus on the convergence of autonomous technologies, regulatory frameworks, and practical applications in the realm of agricultural aerial spraying. As the demand for efficient and effective crop protection methods continues to rise, exploring avenues for accelerating aerial spray applications has become essential. Our panel of experts will delve into the challenges, opportunities, and advancements in this field, shedding light on how innovation is shaping the future of agriculture.

Moderator: Trevor Woods Northern Plains Test Site


  • FAA: Erik Amend (Regional Administrator)
  • Startup: Volker Fabian Pyka
  • Legislative: Cindy Schriber Beck
  • ND Aeronautics Commission: Mike McHugh
  • Spray Applicator: Lukas Koch Heinen Brothers AgraServices

Panel: Cultivating Sustainability: Autonomous Weeders and the Battle Against Herbicide Resistant Weeds

Join us at the Autonomous Nation Conference on August 29th at Microsoft Fargo’s Campus for a thought-provoking panel discussion on the transformative potential of autonomous weeders in addressing the pressing challenge of herbicide-resistant weeds. As conventional herbicides face increasing resistance, the agriculture industry seeks innovative solutions to maintain crop yields while promoting sustainable practices. Our expert panelists will delve into the significance of autonomous weeders, their impact on weed management, and the role they play in shaping the future of farming.
Moderator: Ann Nobriga Grand Farm


  • Tom Peters – NDSU
  • Duane Berhardson- KWS
  • Kenny Lee – Aigen
  • Rex Sun – NDSU

Transport to Grand Farm Innovation Campus

Field Demonstrations

Grand Farm Innovation Campus: 3729 153rd Ave SE, Wheatland, ND 58079

Conference Wrap-Up and Social Hour

Contact with questions about group tickets

Field Demonstrations

From 2 PM to 4 PM, Grand Farm will host live autonomous vehicle and device demonstrations at the Innovation Campus. Join us at the Innovaton Campus for a real-life glimpse at some of the innovative technology that our partners and researchers have designed and built. Learn about the practical implications of autonomous farming and the role it plays in shaping the future.

Get excited about demos from NDSU, Susterre, Thales/Vantis, ISight, Aigen, UND, M&P Innovations, Sentera, Farm Flight, and the Casselton Mayor. 

This event is not included with the virtual ticket.

Grand Farm Innovation Campus: 3729 153rd Ave SE, Wheatland, ND 58079

Tech Connect Education Workshop

TechConnect: Navigating Future Careers in the Autonomous Industry

The TechConnect Workshop, designed exclusively for educators and students, will facilitate valuable connections with professionals spanning various careers in technology and the autonomous industry. It also aims to shed light on the resources available in our region for further exploration. This workshop is part of the larger Autonomous Nation Conference taking place on August 29th.


  • To showcase the wide variety of tech-careers
  • To Expose, Equip and Empower attendees with a network and resources theycan reach out to.

 Join us if you are a:

  • Student in High School or Above (CTE, 2 & 4 year Colleges, Tribal Schools)
  • Middle or High School Educator
  • Agriculture or STEM Educator
  • Career Counselor
  • School Administrator

Registrants will receive:

  • Full Conference Access: Immerse yourself in the complete conference experience.
  • Exclusive Workshop Access: Engage in a specialized workshop designed for your learning journey.
  • Lunch: Enjoy a complimentary lunch during the event.
  • Afternoon Autonomous Demonstrations: Get up close and personal with captivating autonomous demonstrations in the afternoon.


  • Dr. Xinhua Jia, Professor of Ag and Biosystems, NDSU
  • Alex Sailsbury, Unmanned Operations Specialist, Weather Modifications
  • Schott Schofield, Project Integration Team Manager, Northrop Grumman
  • Anna Hanson, Sales Director, Bytespeed
  • Aaron Sykes, STEAM Outreach Coordinator, National Center for Autonomous Technologies
  • Dr. Ana María Heilman, Director, Big Data Pipeline Unit, NDSU
  • Scott Meyer, Founder, FiveMin.AI, Ed3
  • Ujjwal Adhikari, Chief Technology Officer, Kirkwall


  • Dr. Ruchi Joshi Bhardwaj, Grower and Education Program Manager, Grand Farm
  • Dr. Curtis Sullivan, Vice President of Workforce and Culture, Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce

Keynote Speakers

David Black

EVP, Enterprise Transformation & Chief Information Officer


Sen. John Hoeven

United States Senator

North Dakota

Tammy Miller

Lieutenant Governor

North Dakota

Jeffrey Vincent

Executive Director

Federal Aviation Administration, UAS Integration Office


Executive Director Dr. William Aderholdt.
Dr. William Aderholdt


Grand Farm

Erik Amend

Regional Administrator, Great Lakes Region

Federal Aviation Administration

Seth Arndorfer


Dakota Carrier Network

Mark Askelson

AVPR NS, VP Research & Economic Dev

University of North Dakota

Duane Berhardson

Business Development Manager

KWS Innovations

Will Cromarty

CEO and Founder


Volodymyr Demkiv

Senior Delivery Manager, Head of Unit


Kaleb Dschaak

Chief Executive Officer


Matt Dunlevy


Aethero, SkySkopes

Volker Fabian

Chief Commercial Officer


Maynard Factor

Vice President, Business Development

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions

Lukas Koch

IT Director

Heinen Brothers Agra Services

Michelle Liu

Senior Product Manager 

Microsoft Azure

Kenny Lee



Mike McHugh

Education Coordinator

ND Aeronautics Commission

Mike Metzger autonomous nation
Mike Metzger

Vice President, Agriculture & Research

Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative

Prashant Mishra autonomous nation
Prashant Mishra

Founder and CEO

Anthony Molzahn

Chief Executive Officer

Senior Program Manager of Field Operations​ Ann Nobriga
Ann Nobriga

Program Manager of Field Operations

Grand Farm

Venkatesh Rao

Director of Product Management, Autonomous Systems


Michael Robbins

Chief Advocacy Officer


Renee Shelton

Associate Vice President

UND Foundation

Dr. Xin (Rex) Sun

Associate Professor, Uncrewed Autonomous Systems (UAS) Faculty Fellow

North Dakota State University

Erin Roesler

Director of Operations 

Northern Plains UAS Test Site

Paul Snyder

Associate Professor, Uncrewed Autonomous Systems (UAS) Faculty Fellow

North Dakota State University

Taya Spelhaug

TechSpark Manager


Arnaud Thiercelin

Engineering and Product Leader


Terri Zimmerman

Chief Executive Officer

Packet Digital/Botlink