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UAS Numbers of the Future - When Data is Needed to Convey the Massive UAS Market Growth Ahead

Luke Geiver in Blogs on December 01, 2016

About Luke Geiver

Originally posted in UAS magazine -

From private boardrooms to government-led public forums, the Teal Group has become the go-to reference for unmanned aircraft systems market projections. When data is needed to convey the massive UAS market growth ahead, the Teal Group’s 2013 UAV market assessment—projected at $11.6 by 2023—is widely cited.

Now, for the first time ever, the Teal team—led by Phil Finnegan—has split out civil and commercial systems from the market analysis firm’s annual UAS profile. The resulting study shows near- and long-term trends for commercial application adoption, industry plans and UAV production and nationwide implementation projections, all of which is a departure from the team’s previous work that included the element of aerospace military and defense.

“What we are trying to do is give the participants in the UAS sector a sense of the direction of the market, where the opportunities are and a way of looking at the market and being able to better allocate resources in areas of growth,” says Finnegan.

For civil UAS, the growth Finnegan uncovered in the market is staggering. In the next decade, the growth rate in civil UAS will quadruple. This year, non-military UAS production will total $2.6 billion and by 2025, it will reach $10.9 billion. This year, there will be one million UAVS produced. In 2018, there will be 2 million UAVs produced and operating around the world. Although consumer systems currently lead the market right now, commercial systems will surpass all categories by 2022, the study says.

Civil (non-military) UAS projections are trending higher than military and defense in the next decade due to the mindset of commercial enterprises, Finnegan says. Military groups are willing to pay for incremental improvements in technology offerings. Commercial enterprises, he says, are not. “They are totally focused on the bottom line,” he says.

Hobby drone makers outside the commercial market are working their way in. Even as the consumer market is projected to stay hot over the next few years, many manufacturers in the hobby space are working to move up the value chain into the commercial segment.

Regulations put in place within the past two years have made operating in the commercial space not only feasible, but economically lucrative. Due to new regulations in the U.S. and abroad, the global outlook has never been more positive, Finnegan says. “There are now enough regulations in place. The trend lines are clear enough now that you can see how things will develop.”

In the near-term, the construction, surveying and energy industries will lead the implementation and UAV use growth cases. According to the report, all 10 of the largest worldwide construction firms are deploying or experimenting with systems and will soon be able to deploy fleets anywhere in the world. The three largest construction equipment suppliers are also invested in drones, Finnegan says, as all three are either distributing or planning to build their own platforms.

While many continue to watch the link between UAVs and precision agriculture, the study shows the connection may take longer to make than some might believe. Drones used to provide communication services such as wireless internet are making great strides, however. Facebook and Google are each developing their own high altitude long endurance system capable of providing internet to remote areas without landing for several days or weeks. The Airbus Group is already in production of system that appears to be feasible, Finnegan adds.

Like precision agriculture, cargo delivery has been a use case many believe will happen. When it does, Finnegan says, is hard to guess. In the current Teal study the team couldn’t even make any broad projections about the timeline or feasibility of cargo delivery based on the lack of information on available systems or any clear regulatory framework.

For government agencies and peacekeeping groups, the use of UAVs will ramp-up in the years to come as the groups work to monitor escalating situations or keep track of immigrant movements, the study said.

In its entirety, the study consists of 608-pages that include forecast spreadsheets that allow for data manipulation, along with a list of U.S. and French operators including the manufacturers of the systems. The study—available for purchase on CD—also includes 10-year forecasts by customer, region and class of UAS as well as by market.


Author: Luke Geiver

Editor, UAS Magazine




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