More than half of global commercial UAS flights will be conducted autonomously by 2022, according to a new study released today by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. These autonomous flights will function “much like warehouse robots operate today,” the study notes. “This innovation will create new industry opportunities as drones will be used as a tool to make operations more efficient while drone maintenance and security will become prominent areas for revenue stream development.”
Frost & Sullivan sees North America as the leading market, followed closely by the Asia-Pacific region. “The UAS market is becoming an ecosystem focused on information and value-added services, where the drone is a tool acting as a cog in the big data machine,” said Frost & Sullivan aerospace, defense, and security research director Michael Blades. “Success in this ecosystem will be achieved by companies that can safely, quickly, and inexpensively provide high-grade data/information for real-time decision making.”
Blades said he expects consolidation within the industry to continue and make it difficult for new entrants of high-priced systems to compete. Meanwhile, he added, Chinese drone maker DJI will maintain its dominance of the low end of the market in part thanks to its “ability to manipulate pricing.”
The study says fundamental transformations that will disrupt the status quo and create new opportunities for industry growth include a drop in demand for remote pilots to operate drones on site; new regulations, infrastructure, and public perception with regard to drone delivery; and the likelihood that, by 2022, the UAS will mimic the cellphone industry with few hardware providers and myriad open-source software and sensor providers that cater to specific applications.