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By Lucy Bayly

From fighting fires to delivering pizza, unmanned aircraft systems — better known as drones — may soon be making their way into our lives one flight at a time.

This week, innovators and experts in the robotics and drone world will touch down in New Orleans for Xponential 2016, the largest convention of its kind. The annual event brings together executives and drone leaders from 55 countries, representing industries from oil and gas to farming and national defense.

An estimated 8,000 people will gather in the Big Easy through May 5 to hear about emerging technology and high-flying solutions from featured speakers such as FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Gur Kimchi, co-founder and vice president of Amazon Prime Air.

There’s also $15,000 of prize money up for grabs as part of a "start-up showdown" contest. Fifteen tech startups will battle for a spot to pitch their company to a panel of industry experts, with the winner receiving a check as well as one-on-one mentorship from the judges.

To see some drones in action, watch NBC's Gabe Gutierrez live on the TODAY show on Wednesday, May 4.