Global Small Drones Market: Snapshot

A small drone, as the name suggests, is a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) that is small enough to be man-portable. Small drones can range from micro air vehicles to man-portable UAVs that can be carried and set in motion like an infantry man-portable air-defense system.

Drones come in a number of sizes, with the large ones mostly used in the military such as Predator drone. On the other hand, small drones that can be launched by hand requires short runways. The need for small, and even very small UAVs arose in the early 1990s. Small unmanned aerial vehicles can transform the economy of a nation in a multitude of ways. This includes precision agriculture, assistance to first responders, fast and environmental-friendly consumer delivery, and safe inspection of crucial infrastructure such as oil and gas pipelines.

From the initial one, drone technology has come a long way wherein more capabilities can be packed into smaller and less expensive unmanned aerial vehicles. Unmanned aerial vehicle technology in the widest aspect includes aerodynamics of the drone, circuit boards, materials in the manufacture of physical UAV, and chipset and software.

A typical unmanned vehicle is composed of light composite materials to reduce weight and enhance maneuverability. This allows drones to cruise at extremely high elevations. Drones are equipped with state-of-the-art technology such as GPS, infra-red cameras, and laser. These vehicles cruise either based on pre-programed flight operations or more complex dynamic automation systems. An unmanned aerial vehicle has two elements, the drone itself and the control system.

In recent times, the drones or UAVs have played a vital role in the commercial as well military market, deploying them for different purpose according to the need. Currently, the demand for more secretive surveillance among the law enforcement agencies and defense forces across the globe and reduced sized of drones in the commercial sector is gaining the interest for small drones among the drone manufacturers. 

The small drones market is majorly driven by the factors such as growing need for enhanced surveillance, most advanced payloads technologies. The demand from law enforcement agencies and defense forces for enhanced surveillance in order to maintain law and order in an area, and to monitor the combat area or border area with maximum accuracy is driving the market for small drones. The miniature drones are equipped with most advanced payloads technologies which increases the data recording accuracy. The growing need for miniature drones with advanced technology is boosting the market to grow in future. 

The major factor hindering the growth of the market for small drones is the strict airspace regulations in the developed as well as developing countries. The small drone’s manufacturers are facing challenges in meeting the demand for manufacturing drones with latest technology due to the strict airspace regulations set by the government in different regions across the globe. The drones with advanced technology can hinder cross the limitation set by the government during surveillance or other applications. Another, major limitation in the small drones market is the lack of skilled pilots to fly these small and advanced drones in order to gather accurate data. The lack of skilled labor prevails in the commercial as well as in military forces, and this factor is impacting negatively on the market for small drones. 

The small drones market has potential opportunities in future to grow such as autonomous small drones especially for military purpose, and price reduction of the small drones. The defense forces worldwide lack the benefit of autonomous drones which can be beneficial during any combat or surveillance and reconnaissance operation. The autonomous small drones can perform every task automatically without any manned pilot operating it to perform tasks. This could be highly advantageous for the defense forces. The manufacturers in the small drones market are focusing on this potential opportunity in order to help the defense forces. Another most prominent opportunity for small drones market to grow is the price reduction, which is limiting the commercial sector to adopt the small drones. 

The market for small drones is segmented on basis of size, payload, type application and geography. On basis of size, the small drones market is segmented as mini drones, micro drones and nano drones. Micro drones dominated the market; however, mini drones are anticipated to boost the market in the future at a higher pace. The different payloads fitted on to the small drones are sensors, cameras, telemetry systems, and others. Among the different payloads, the sensors captured the market for small drones followed by the cameras. Telemetry systems are projected to grow at substantial pace over the years, leading the market for small drones to grow rapidly. Based on types, the market for small drones is bifurcated as fixed wing drones and rotary wing drones. Fixed wings small drones are the most attractive drones in the current scenario, while the rotary wings small drones are poised to fuel the market in future. The small drones are applicable in areas such as law enforcement agencies, defense forces, and commercial. The defense forces captured the largest market while commercial sector is expected to be the fastest growing application in the small drones market. The small drones market is segmented regionally as North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America. 

The key vendors operating in the small drones market are Microdrones GmbH (Germany), Elbit Systems Ltd. (Israel), Thales Group (France), Boeing (U.S.), Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (Israel), Aerovironment Inc. (U.S), Parrot S.A (France)., BAE Systems Inc. (U.S.), Lockheed Martin Corporation (U.S.), Textron Inc. (U.S.). 

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  • North America (U.S. and Canada)
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Small Drones Market