The technology of drones or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has come a long way, with the drone industry shifting gradually from military sector to commercial sector. The growing availability and affordability of drones is what making them popular for commercial as well as personal use. Moreover, government and private organizations are actively investing in this market for manufacturing and developing of small but efficient drones for defense as well as commercial applications. Over the coming years, the market for small drones is expected to flourish, especially in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
Market Drivers and Restraints
The major factors driving the global market for small drones are:
- Increasing applications in commercial sector
- Growing need for efficient border surveillance
- Increased operational efficiency without the need for human intervention
Moreover, declining defense budgets in developed nations and autonomous and combat operations are likely to offer good growth opportunities for this market over the coming years. However, stringent airspace regulations across major countries and lack of skilled and trained pilots may act as deterrents for the growth of this market.
Growing at a CAGR of 11.6% during the projected period, the size of the global small drones market which was estimated to be USD 5.80 Billion in 2015 is expected to reach USD 10.04 Billion by 2020. Among regions, North America dominated the market with highest share in 2015 due to developments in technology and increasing incidences of terrorism. However, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are expected to drive the growth of this market over the forecast period, with Asia-Pacific projected to grow at the highest CAGR due to increased production for small drones for commercial and defense sectors, such as crop monitoring, logistics, surveillance, among others.
Among applications, commercial segment is expected to hold the largest market share, and will grow at a higher CAGR as compared to the defense sector, owing to huge investments being made by market players in developing smart drones for implementation across various applications. On the basis of propulsion systems, the segment of lithium-ion battery segment is the largest market as of now, and is expected to grow at a steady CAGR over the forecast period. However, the fuel-cell battery segment is expected to witness the highest CAGR, followed by hybrid propulsion systems.
Based on payload, the sensors segment is dominant market, and is also expected to grow at the highest CAGR between 2015 and 2020. On the basis of type, rotary wing small drones market is projected to grow at the highest CAGR because of its flexibility to move in any direction at any angle and at any given point of time.
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According to researchers, the global market for small drones has been studied and predicted on the basis of following segmentation:
- Application: Commercial, Defense
- Payload: Sensors, Telemetry Systems, Video Screen, Camera, Others
- Size: Mini, Micro, Nano
- Propulsion Systems: Lithium Ion Battery, Solar, Hydrogen Cell, Fuel Cell, Hybrid
- Type: Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, Others
- Geography: North America, Europe, Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa
Some of the prominent players functioning in the global small drones market include Northrop Grumman (U.S.), Lockheed Martin (U.S.), AeroVironment (U.S.), Parrot SA (France), DJI (China), and QinetiQ Group Plc. (U.K.) among others.