Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are remote-controlled aerial vehicles. They have no human pilots on board. Global commercial UAV market was worth more than USD 502 million in 2014. It would grow at a CAGR of about 16% from 2015 to 2022. This may be attributed to increasing application in retail and government sectors.
Commercial UAVs are highly demanded in defense and military. Governments use them in law enforcement, security & surveillance, disaster management, scientific research, infrastructure, and environmental studies. Therefore, most industrialized nations are allocating large funds for development of such drones.
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Upcoming opportunities include demand from retail and ecommerce industries. Vendors in these sectors are trying their best to deliver purchased goods to customers in the shortest time possible. GPS programmed drones may facilitate the same.
However, growth may be discouraged on account of restrictions imposed by bodies regulating the aviation sector. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Europe have banned commercial use of drones as they may hinder citizen safety and lead to heavy air traffic.
On the positive side, these restrictions are expected to be relaxed in the coming years. FAA’s new proposal includes an accelerated UAV approval process for public safety agencies. It may also broaden scope for civilian use.
The global commercial UAV market is classified according to applications, products, and geographies. Chief application segments are agriculture, energy, media & entertainment, government, and others.
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Government applications accounted for more than 39% of the total global revenues in 2014. Agricultural applications would grow at the fastest rate i.e. at a CAGR of 17.9% from 2015 to 2022. Fixed wing drones are used to water large fields. They also help in scattering seeds, pesticides and fertilizers with great efficiency.
Main products include nano, fixed wing, hybrid, and rotary blade. Rotary blade dominated the market in 2014. Fixed wing UAVs will grow due to use in topographic surveys, terrain modeling and aerial mapping.
The five geographical segments are North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa (MEA). North America was the dominant region. European market is benefitting from relaxed regulations, and growing adoption in law enforcement and agriculture.
Key market players are Elbit Systems, BAE Systems, General Atomics, and Parrot SA. They focus on vertical integration and technology licensing to grow. Technological and product innovations are factors contributing to success in the industry.
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