|Drones are also known as unmanned aircraft systems or remote-control flying robots. / Photo by Dmitry Kalinovsky via 123rf|
Drones are also known as unmanned aircraft systems or remote-control flying robots, said Teri Williams of Technopedia, an IT and business news platform. They have evolved from merely “toys” or recreational novelties to business assets. Today, drones are capable of performing various tasks such as surveillance and deliveries thanks to their growth in efficiency and rapid growth.
Of course, the safety and security of both recreational and commercial drones will remain to be a top concern for drone operators. Even so, let us take a look at what’s in store for drones this 2020.
Statistics on Drones and Drone Spending
The UAV drone market is expected to grow by $47.8 billion with a compound growth rate of 18.8%, according to market research store Research and Markets. For instance, Fix-Wing UAVs have the potential to grow at over 19.2%, making it essential for businesses to keep up with the changing phase of the market.
By 2025, it is forecasted to reach $21.9 billion, bringing in healthy gains and driving significant global growth. The US will maintain a 20.4% growth momentum. In Europe, Germany will have more than $1.8 billion in the next five to six years. Meanwhile, Japan’s Fix-Wing UAV market will reach $1.9 billion while China will have a growth rate of 18.4% in the next couple of years, amounting to $8.3 billion.
Further, global spending on robotics systems and drones will amount to $128.7 billion in 2020, as found by IDC (International Data Corporation), a premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events. The said amount will skyrocket to $241.4 billion with a CAGR of 19.8%.
Drone spending will be dominated by hardware purchases with 90% (32.8% CAGR) of the category total leaning towards service drones, consumer drones, and after-market sensors in 2020. Drone software spending will experience the largest growth at a 38.2% CAGR, with the funds allotted to command and control applications and drone-specific applications. Services spending will have a 37.6% CAGR, which will be led by education and training.
In 2020, consumer spending on drones will garner a total of $6.5 billion, representing nearly 40% of the worldwide total. Meanwhile, industry spending will be led by utilities at $1.9 billion, construction at $1.4 billion, and the discreet and manufacturing and resource industries at $1.2 billion each. During the forecast period 2019-2023, the fastest growth in drone spending will come from the federal/central government (63.4% CAGR), education (55.9% CAGR), and state/local government (49.9% CAGR).
What’s Next for Drones in 2020?
1. Drug Delivery
The pharmaceutical industry is set to leverage drone services this year. Director of strategy at Nerdery Taqee Khaled noted, “This is the year of major leaps in social acceptance of drone delivery, for at least prescription drugs and minor purchases from certain retail pharmacies and stores.” He said he is looking forward to seeing “bundles” piloted between leading pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.
Khaled envisioned big pharma companies proposing drone-exclusive delivery for high-cost and/or life-saving drugs. In 2019, Walgreens collaborated with Alphabet’s Wings to deliver over-the-counter meds while CVS Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen agreed with UPS to bring pharmaceuticals to customers using drones. Khaled argued that these partnerships will serve as major endorsements of drone technology. He added, “At the same time, no drone advancements will be made at full scale — we’ll only see continued test markets in 2020.”
2. Drones In Public Safety and Disaster Response
“Augmented Reality for drones will greatly enhance on-board camera capabilities, especially for first responders,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Latchaw, founder of Macatawa Unmanned Systems. He stated that companies such as Responder Air and Eddgybees offer augmented reality software that enables geospatial map overlays within the drone’s camera video output.
This provides the operator with more information such as addresses and road names. The software also grants the user the ability to make notes within the virtual map. If there’s a flood, for example, the software will reveal which roads are covered in water, Latchaw said. He said he expects more brands to incorporate thermal and RGB camera capabilities into their platforms. He noted, “This will allow for features such as FLIR’s (MSX) Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging capabilities in which the thermal image overlays the visual picture.”
One obstacle is the limited amount of time that drones can fly. However, Latchaw said to expect delivery duration changes in 2020.
3. Drone Legislation and Regulation
You will not see any drone-related legislation to be enacted this 2020. Caroline Gentry, chair of the UAS practice at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, explained that Congress traditionally includes drone-related laws in legislation funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Hence, you can’t expect a bill to be passed by lawmakers since the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 will be providing funds until 2023.
However, this scenario might change if lawmakers were to introduce a standalone bill on FAA safety “in the wake of the Boeing 737 Max crashes” or when fatalities occur during a collision between a drone and a manned aircraft, Gentry cautioned.
|The drone market will continue to grow in the coming years as more industries use them to perform various tasks. / Photo by kantver via 123rf|
The drone market will continue to grow in the coming years as more industries use them to perform various tasks. We will get to see improvements in drones with regard to delivering medication or in responding to emergency situations. While there might not be changes in legislation and regulation, 2020 will be the year of innovation for the drone industry.