Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) or drones, are gaining significant traction in a variety of industries including film and media, oil and gas, insurance, public safety, and agriculture, among others. While the number of drones being shipped for commercial markets is often the most visible trend, the largest revenue opportunity in the sector lies in the various services that these drones will enable.
According to a recent report from Tractica, by the end of the next decade, annual revenue from drone-enabled services will be more than double the revenue from sales of commercial drone hardware units themselves. The market intelligence firm forecasts that global commercial UAV services revenue will grow from $170 million in 2015 to $8.7 billion by 2025. The largest service applications will be filming and entertainment, mapping, aerial assessment, and prospecting, but smaller opportunities for drone services will also include disaster relief, early warning systems, data collection and analytics, environmental monitoring, and package delivery.
“Commercial drone operators around the world are quickly realizing the potential for UAVs to be harnessed for a variety of services in a more efficient manner than can be achieved using conventional means such as satellites or aircraft,” says managing director Clint Wheelock. “Most commercial applications for drones are related to aerial imaging or data analysis, taking advantage of low-cost components and ever-increasing sensor capabilities.”
Wheelock adds that, while regulatory and business barriers remain to the more widespread use of drones for commercial purposes, the path ahead is becoming steadily clearer as business models and policy frameworks continue to be refined in countries around the world.
Tractica’s report, “Drones for Commercial Applications”, examines the market trends and technology issues surrounding the commercial drone industry and presents a comprehensive analysis of the drivers and inhibitors of market development, the regulatory landscape, business models, and supply chain considerations. The report includes a 10-year forecast for drone hardware unit shipments and revenue, segmented by industry, airframe type, and world region, in addition to drone-enabled services by application area. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.