Since Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, announced in 2013 that they were testing the use of drones as a method of delivery, the commercial sector has been abuzz with the endless opportunities smart drones can create.
The number of permits approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has skyrocketed since then reflecting the sprouting use of smart drones in commercial business.
Beyond The Battlefield
The pace of drone technology development has been fast. Drones went from being an interest of hobbyists to becoming so widely used that small-scale drones are as easy to operate as toys in the hands of general consumers. In the commercial realm, drone use has grown exponentially. Not only has the cost of equipment come down, but it’s much easier to retrieve and interpret data collected through smart drones.
Hardware Will Become Commoditized; Value Will Derive from Services
Drone hardware has become more affordable to produce and purchase; manufacturing and hardware itself will not drive industry growth going forward. Instead, services that operate and manage drones for companies will generate most of the value. End-user companies will turn over services that operate drones, manage drone data, and manage maintenance to third parties.
DJI’s dominance of the smart commercial drones is evident in the market
With the potential for so many companies to substantially increase their return on investment, it should come as no surprise that big investors have already claimed their stake in the drone market. Market players such as, DJI, Parrot SA, and 3D Robotics captured the top three revenue share spots in the Smart Commercial Drones market in 2018. DJI dominated with ~60% percent revenue share, followed by Parrot SA and 3D Robotics.
Because drone technology is so popular, drone manufacturers can make greater investments in research, materials and development to deliver more advanced capabilities. Drones have become out-of-the-box solutions with many applications.
High focus on technology & innovation across regions
The global smart commercial drone market in North America is expected to account for the largest market share followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific. This is primarily due to their increased adoption for a variety of tasks such as traffic management, congestion analysis, and crime scene investigation.
The regional market is also characterized with high focus on technology innovation and presence of key industry players providing smart commercial drone solutions. Furthermore, the Asia-Pacific market is expected to grow at the highest rate during the forecast period owing to the rapid adoption of smart commercial drones in e-commerce business. Additionally, the growth opportunities are mainly attributed to the significant economies of Japan, China, and India.
The US has been a particularly strong source of commercial growth, with the value of drone activity rising from USD 40.00 million in 2012 to about USD 1.00 billion in 2017. By 2026, it is estimated that commercial drones, both corporate and consumer applications, will have an annual impact of USD 31.00 billion to USD 46.00 billion on the country’s GDP.
As with any industry, economic drivers also shape demand. In the US, companies may unlock the greatest value from smart drones that streamline operations and facilitate automation rather than more headline-grabbing applications, like drone delivery and transport. This is part of a broader move to automate and digitize operations, and the best companies will keep such economic drivers at the forefront as they develop their unmanned aircraft system (UAS) strategy. Although these uses may not attract as much interest as those related to transport and delivery, they are more attainable and potentially more lucrative, at least over the short term.
A Bird’s-Eye View: Rise to Collision Avoidance System for Easy Maneuverability
There are many factors that are helping the smart commercial drone market to flourish. The growing investment in the technology by emerging economies have resulted in stable flight platform which is a pre-requisite for aerial photography. These investments have also given rise to collision avoidance system for easy maneuverability in the cities. This factor is expected to be amongst the major factors driving the market.
Additionally, the increasing use of smart commercial drones across e-commerce, mapping, and agriculture is also adding to the market’s growth. The emergence of cloud-based data services and applications is also anticipated to spur the market growth.
Predictions for the Future: Consolidation will Increase
With the consumer business already dominated by a few major players, there will be consolidation in the commercial space via mergers and acquisitions. Consolidation will likely result in a few companies fighting for market share while the rest fall to the wayside. The market is dominated by a few key players who have broad geographic coverage and possess superior technologies.
These players try to grow and sustain in the market by adopting a mix of both organic and inorganic growth strategies.
There has been an exponential growth in recent years for the number of patents published on drone technology. Owing to these technical breakthroughs, the commercial drone sector may continue to experience stimulation and growth.