There exists a virtually untapped market in the commercial arena for unmanned aerial vehicle. First of all it does away with labour intensive time-consuming tasks and ensures faster responses. Also, tasks which constitute health hazards like the inspections of nuclear or biohazard facilities are areas where the commercial prospect for drones are high. Adverse geographical terrain also provides a wide spectrum where commercial prospects for drones are unexploited.
A Drone can simply be defined as an ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’ or UAV. It is a flying vehicle without any internal human interference. In the modern age, all unmanned aerial vehicle has an in-built computer making them highly agile, mobile and efficient.
Types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
On a broader sense unmanned aerial vehicles can be classified as fixed-wing; multi-rotor; single rotor; and hybrid fixed-wing. Of all the mentioned types, the pocket-friendly one is the multi-rotor type. It comes with more exceptional ability to steer with stability, making them very easy to maneuver. However, the multi-rotor types have a disadvantage within the terms of durability and swiftness. It certainly puts this type of unmanned aerial vehicle undesirable for a broader airborne surveillance. Another type of unmanned aerial vehicle the fixed-wing is more efficient as compared to the multi-rotor type. This type thus is utilized around the globe for long-distance tasks. In jobs like mapping, this type of unmanned aerial vehicles has the edge over other variants. Also, for espionage purposes, this type of unmanned aerial vehicle is considered more reliable, as it can dally longer to watch the area of focus. Above all, the variety of power sources used in this type of unmanned aerial vehicle, keeps it operational for quite a long time.
However, it should be kept in mind that the fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle has a very prominent flaw. This type of unmanned aerial vehicle cannot be a stationary object, making it unsuitable for aerial photography domain. Also, this type of unmanned aerial vehicle needs a bit of land for flying and landing back. Another niche type of unmanned aerial vehicle is the single rotor which has its unique point in a single rotor to control the device. It, however, provides users with higher durability as aerodynamics law clearly mentions that larger rotors blades are more efficient than smaller ones.
Current Geopolitical Scenario Boosts Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Market
The market conditions around the world are full of domestic and geopolitical uncertainties, which is making investors worried over a future downturn or a recession. Experts are fretting about the potential of a massive – scale conflict between the United States and Iran. Also, there is no certainty that the trade dispute between the United States and China would solve in a reasonable period. The Gulf crisis has dangerously escalated in recent times, threatening to disrupt the all-important Strait of Hormuz, which carries about a fifth of the world’s oil and a quarter of its natural gas. Tensions have risen after Iran seized a British – flagged tanker in the Persian Gulf. It was in retaliation to an Iranian tanker captured by the United Kingdom navy, and an Iranian drone was shot down by the United States army. Moreover, Iran has already breached parts of its nuclear agreement and has threatened with more actions if the issue remains unresolved.
In such a scenario, a staggering twelve per cent compounded annual growth rate for military unmanned aerial vehicle market size growth is projected by the market experts. At the end of FY 2018, it was USD 12.1 billion which as per market experts are expected to breach the USD 26 billion mark by FY 2018. The uptick in the market size was boosted by the addition of unmanned aerial vehicle by armed forces across the globe. The demand from armed forces is on the northward trajectory as unmanned aerial vehicle have multi-fold use in various areas like survey, mapping, surveillance and combat.
Commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Market Dissected
The arrival of unmanned aerial vehicle in the commercial scene has turned upside the whole traditional set up of the broader market. As per market experts, the commercial drone worldwide market size is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 83.3% to USD 179.6 billion in FY 2025 from USD 1.41 billion in FY 2018. As of now, there is strong buzz about the use of drone in varied fields ranging from emergency services to surveillance to delivery to movie making.
The trend for using drones for commercial purposes got a boost in FY 2016. At that time, the United States government civil aviation regulatory body, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set guidelines on commercial drone usage. Globally in the commercial drone space, Chinese companies rule the roost. So it is not a surprise that the top slot in the global commercial drone space goes to a Chinese company, SZ DJI Technology Company Limited. As per media speculation, the company rules over almost seventy per cent of the global commercial drone space. Other prominent players in this area include the likes of French company, Parrot SA and 3D Robotics from United States.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Focus Areas for Growth
The earlier trend was to use unmanned aerial vehicle in the commercial scene mainly towards photography, be it still or video. The onus comes from the marketing angle. However, the market potential is increasing into a diverse and varied field at an exponential rate in today’s times.
Firstly, we can look at the agricultural space which can benefit from the adoption of the unmanned aerial vehicle in numerous ways. For example, unmanned aerial vehicle can be used by cultivators or growers, to track the status of a batch of crops or livestock; growing or grazing; far corners of the field. Using unmanned aerial vehicle will also make life easier for farmers while inventorying the crops. Further unmanned aerial vehicle can regularly track the status of farm infrastructure and irrigation canals. The list of benefits doesn’t just end here for unmanned aerial vehicle, it would save time and labour if used for spraying fertilizers, pesticides and water on fields.
Next, we can look into the domain of delivery. Here a prominent example is United States-based technology play, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), which is making serious inroads into incorporating drones in its delivery infrastructure. The company is not alone, other big shots like package delivery and supply chain management company, United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) applied for the Federal Aviation Administration certifications for drone delivery. The company is already doing commercial drone delivery with privately-owned drone startup, Matternet since March 2019. The duo already has a well-established income generating source from WakeMed Health & Hospitals located in Raleigh in the state of North Carolina at the United States. United Parcel Service and Matternet daily conduct around ten unmanned aerial vehicle flights for WakeMed Health & Hospitals. Through the flights United Parcel Service and Matternet transport human medical specimens from various points around WakeMed Health & Hospitals’ main hospital campus to its central laboratory.
In the construction domain also interest graph for drone use is rising exponentially. Recently, one of the largest privately-owned construction play in North America, the PCL family of companies announced that it has started using Site Scan platform. It is a collection of computer programs which guides in control of unmanned aerial vehicle for a specific task. It also includes a web-based application for converting snapped pictures by the unmanned aerial vehicle into detailed three-dimensional model and maps.
The Site Scan platform was developed by Berkeley, California based unmanned aerial vehicle software company, 3DR. The company is actively pushing the platform towards construction companies to use drones for flying job-site tasks. Unmanned aerial vehicle also has a massive opportunity in the domain of engineering projects. They provide an ideal avenue for use in areas like surveying, laying transmission cables, oil pipelines supervision, and maintenance inspections.
Another rapidly emerging area for the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle is in the field of emergency response services. As per market experts, the global market for the medical unmanned aerial vehicle market is set to grow from its current market value of more than USD 88 million in FY 2018 to over USD 399 million by FY 2025. Notable industry players operational in medical unmanned aerial vehicle market are Dalsey, Hillblom and Lynn International GmbH; Embention; Zipline; etc.
United Kingdom Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Legal Front
In the United Kingdom, the incumbent government is drafting a new unmanned aerial vehicle Bill. Earlier in January 2019, the government of the United Kingdom announced the results of a public opinion poll. The general opinion poll, which consisted of more than five thousand subjects running between the period from July 6, 2018, to September 17, 2018. As of now, there exists a blanket ban by the government of the United Kingdom, related to the use of unmanned aerial vehicle by the general public within five kilometres of any airport in the island nation.