Drone market soars for military and civil use

Written by: Caroline Hayes | Published:
Photo source: DHL AG DHL AG uses drones to transport medical supplies

A report from IDTechEx Electic Drones: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles UAVs 2015 – 2025, forecasts dramatic growth for UAVs, or drones, as agriculture, border protection, parcel delivery, logistics, rescue, mine detection, wildlife protection and film production adopt them.

Most of the market value today lies in military applications, both for electric and – the majority - non-electric versions but it is small UAVs that are increasing in sales fastest, which are primarily non-military applications. From 2026, civil uses will greatly exceed military in market value, says the report, with small UAVs achieving $2billion in sales in 2025 generating over $20billion in benefits in agriculture, border protection, parcel delivery, warehousing, coastguard, customs, search and rescue, medical emergency, mine detection, protection of rare species and movie production.

While Amazon has reiterated its commitment to delivering packages to customers via drones when they get the regulatory support needed, DHL Parcel began using unmanned DHL Parcelcopter to deliver pharmaceuticals from the seaside village of Norddeich, Germany, across the North Sea, to the island of Juist in September. DHL China's biggest internet retailer Alibaba trialled drone deliveries at the beginning of February.

The report concentrates on what has happened in 2014-15 and what comes next.

That includes technological change, with bodywork becoming electric and electronics to save cost, volume and weight while increasing reliability and lifespan.

Lithium batteries of 142 manufacturers are compared in chemistry, format and sales success and prospective and actual motor advances evaluated. Other new components include supercabatteries such as lithium-ion capacitors, silicon carbide and gallium nitride power semiconductors and multi-mode energy harvesting.

This 200 page report on electric drones has over 120 figures and tables distilling the markets and technology into roadmaps and forecasts by number, unit value and market value 2015-2025. It discusses the rapidly changing powertrains, the uses, participants and benefits.

Adoption of cameras, cost reduction, types, alternatives, legal issues, latest news, and new inventions, from drones that walk or swim to ones proposed for garnering power are included.

Beyond the UAV powertrain, with its radically changing motors and so on, there are the telematics, sensor platforms and optics all changing rapidly to become far more functional and lighter in weight.

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