Unmanned Flight: The Rise of the Drones

By WPG AmericasJune 8, 2016

Though “drone” is still a fairly new concept, it has, since 2015 taken a steep turn to feature as one of the most sought-after consumer and commercial devices. Massive investments in the sector coupled with dynamic technological advancements are most likely the primary determining factors fuelling the growth rate of the drone industry. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) expert Mark Bathrick, Director of the Office of Aviation Services for the Department of the Interior, says, from a capability standpoint, today’s drones represent a whole new level of evolution over previous unmanned aircrafts.

Consumer Drone Market

According to reports published by Grand View Research, the consumer drone market size is projected at $4.19 billion by 2024. The figures are substantially hefty in light of the current valuation of $355.9 million estimated in 2015. Presumably, integration of catchy accessories like high-resolution HD 4K cameras and advanced Gimbal systems, are influencing features luring more buyers into the consumer drone industry. Furthermore, relaxation of regulations by government authorities in respect to drone flying for non-commercial purposes in select geographical areas, is also a major stimulant driving the growth of the consumer drone market in recent times.

Enterprise Market of Drones

Growth potential of the enterprise drone market in most countries across the globe is at this moment largely dependent on policy and regulatory framework that are yet to be constructively developed. Still, prima facie reports of the global commercial drone market is being viewed by experts as exceptionally promising. During 2016 to 2021, the market is expected to expand heavily at a striking CAGR of over 27%. Specifically, the Asia Pacific region is most likely to experience a significant growth owing to the development of low cost innovative technology solutions by Japan and China. Moreover, significant advancements in multifunctional drones for various industrial applications is also being anticipated to play a pivotal role in driving the global enterprise drone market in the recent future.

Drone Applications

There is no end to possibilities as far as deployment of drones are concerned. The area is varied and diversified. Some major applications include:

  • Disaster management
  • Search and rescue operations
  • Industrial inspection and monitoring
  • Surveillance for public safety
  • Nature exploration, science and research
  • Surveying and mapping

Challenges Faced by the Drone Industry

For most countries, especially the US, technological and regulatory barriers are the prime reasons restricting the full-fledged adoption of drone. Public privacy and safety security concerns are key derivatives challenging the growth of the drone market. Bathrick cited “During 9/11, we used the air traffic control system to put all the planes on the ground. All traffic control had to do was radio the pilots to land. How do you that in a drone situation? That's one of the challenges being addressed by NASA, in collaboration with other agencies and companies in developing an unmanned traffic management system for UAS.”   Bathrick added, until and unless formal UAS certification and regulations are officially developed, just like it is in place for manned aircraft, the growth prospect of commercial drone usage won’t be as bright as expected.