Inspection Drones Market – Setting New Trends of Surveillance
With their earliest use dating back to 1839 in the form of unmanned balloons that evolved mostly for military attacks, the non-military use of drones is a relatively new concept, as recent as 2006. Government agencies started employing inspection drones for disaster relief, wildfire fighting, and border surveillance, whereas, agricultural corporations began employing drones for the inspection of pipelines and spraying pesticides on agricultural farms.
In the years following, as unmanned aerial technology continued to improve in the military sector, the same made its way into commercial applications too. Beyond this, the recreational use of inspection drones is relatively new. The safety aspect of inspection drones that the Federal Aviation Administration needed to be convinced about is the main reason behind the delay in the growth of the inspection drones market space.
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However, an announcement made by Amazon in 2013 for considering drones for delivery created big news in the inspection drones market. This marked a stepping stone for growth within the drone inspection space. Sensing copious opportunities, the inspection drones market is estimated to grow at a whopping ~23% CAGR between 2019 and 2027, predicts a market research publication by Transparency Market Research (TMR).
Drone inspection offers considerable economic and human safety advantages. Drone inspection not only reduces heavy costs related to constructing traditional access methods, but also nearly offsets the risks of manned labor working at night. At present, drone inspection is the preferred method for visual surveys across a wide range of industries.
Contrary to manned visual surveying, drone inspection is considered much safer and accurate. For such reasons, blue-chip companies are now beginning to realize the benefits of drone inspection that are within the scope of their annual maintenance and repair budgets.
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Inspection Drones Market: Ensuring Human Safety in Construction and Critical Infrastructure
The military and defense landscape has been long using inspection drones for border security purposes. Besides this, several commercial areas of economic and human welfare now find the use of inspection drones, such as construction and infrastructure industries. Critical infrastructure such as bridges in urban areas require periodic inspections, which are mandated by various regulations in most countries to safeguard against cracks, rust, or any other damages.
In addition, increased demand in the inspection drones market for critical infrastructure inspection is mainly attributed to the fact that, drone inspection has emerged as a messiah for several pain points within the inspection and survey space. For instance, in the U.K, from the perspective of public health and safety, figures pertaining to work-related fatalities are disturbing. On an average, 25% workplace injuries are related to falls from heights, which are decreasing as compared to previous years.
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Contrary to manual inspection that involves a crew of inspection professionals and heavy machinery, along with the risk of human due to from dangerous heights, inspection involving drones alleviates these challenges. For such reasons, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are becoming an integral part of infrastructure inspection practices, influencing emerging trends in the inspection drone landscape. Today, professional drones that are used are agile, cost-effective, and can perform tasks proven to be dangerous to be carried out by humans.
In such a scenario, the new paradigm of drone-based inspections is a safe alternative for risky jobs of the surveillance of high structures. Serving such critical advantages, the demand for inspection drones in critical infrastructure inspection applications is predicted to rise at a stellar 22.7% CAGR during the forecast period. However, drone-based inspection, which is still a new and emerging concept, will take some time before it becomes established, as its penetration is the most in the border security sector, which accounts for nearly half the revenue share of the inspection drones market.
Extensive R&D to fill up White Spaces for Deployment of Inspection Drones
In the current scenario, the deployment of inspection drones for expanded commercial use seems realistic. With the increasing demand for inspection drones in a wide range of industrial areas, such as oil & gas, power & energy, and military & defense, where security is a sensitive matter of concern, the inspection drones market is poised to expand 5X during the forecast period.
This, however, will require drones to display added functionalities for varied applications beyond the current applications of surveillance, aerial photography, deliveries, and asset inspections. Currently, an array of thermal cameras, GPS technology, and scanners are common features of advanced inspection drones. As such, extensive research & development (R&D) is likely to become an inevitable business strategy for stakeholders to maintain their lead in the inspection drones market.
Despite notable technological advancements, inspection drones are not recommended for flights in snow, rain, or even drizzle. Such challenges provide growth space for players in the inspection drones market. The high extent of R&D needed to overcome such challenges is a key focus of established players in this market. If successful, such efforts can open up new scopes of applications for inspection drones. Resultantly, market players who pioneer such efforts will make gains in the market space, says the TMR report.
Vast Scope of Partnerships Opportune for Expansion in the Inspection Drones Market
The scope of partnerships is vast for players in the inspection drones market. Manufacturers of inspection drones can partner with suppliers and distributors of each and every engineering and mechanical component that is used for these vehicles. Key components include chassis, motors, propellers, flight controllers, radio receivers, batteries, and battery chargers.
The scope for collaboration for the exchange of scientific and technological knowledge among market players is also vast. Computer programming, AI, remote monitoring, and semiconductors and electronics are some areas of science and technology that are extensively used in the manufacture and operations of inspection drones. The high degree of manufacturing and operational complexities involved in the inspection drones market is bolstering technological collaborations among market players.
Partnerships and collaborations among players provides white space for growth in the inspection drones market. Large established players such as Maverick Drone Systems and Airobiotics Ltd. striving for strategic alliances have impressive scope of gains. With such alliances, market participants can leverage the technical, scientific, and business expertise of partner companies, which they can capitalize on.
New Distribution Channels to Emerge in the Inspection Drones Landscape
The sales of inspection drones is trendsetting as well. Distributors, resellers, and directly acquiring from manufacturers are the traditional channels for the purchase of these vehicles. Due to the high level of scientific and technological knowledge involved in inspection drones, commercial enterprises employing inspection drones prefer offline sales channels. These channels enable reliable in-person or telephonic guidance to address technical glitches. Programming faults for drone flights and breakdown of mechanical components also receive timely troubleshooting to prevent subsequent delays.
Nevertheless, the online sales channel is pacing up too. Exponentially rising practices of online buying of all types of products and equipment is providing a spurt in the growth of the online sales channel. Large online retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba are entering the inspection drone landscape to sell hi-tech equipment, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, at more attractive prices than offline sales channels.
Inspection Drones Market – Competitive Landscape
At the competitive front, the inspection drones market largely features a consolidated vendor landscape. In 2018, SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd. held a whopping 42.3% share of the inspection drones market, and other leading companies such as AeroVironment Inc and 3DRobotics Inc. collectively accounted for ~15% revenue share of the market. Continual R&D for novel technologies as well as for improvements in current inspection drone vehicles accounts for a high market share of this company. In addition, keen players are also vying to expedite certifications and regulatory formalities for consolidating their position in the inspection drones market.
Beyond this, the introduction of cutting-edge add-ons for inspection drones, such as site scan application software, serves to be a plus for top players in the inspection drones market. These applications, supported by the ubiquitous iOS operating system, expand their use.
Inspection Drones Market – Competitive Landscape
At the competitive front, the inspection drone market largely features a consolidated vendor landscape. In 2018, SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd. held a whopping 42.3% share of the inspection drone market, and other leading companies such as AeroVironment Inc and 3DRobotics Inc. collectively accounted for ~15% revenue share of the market. Continual R&D for novel technologies as well as for improvements in current inspection drone vehicles accounts for a high market share of this company. In addition, keen players are also vying to expedite certifications and regulatory formalities for consolidating their position in the inspection drone market.
Beyond this, the introduction of cutting-edge add-ons for inspection drones, such as site scan application software, serves to be a plus for top players in the inspection drone market. These applications, supported by the ubiquitous iOS operating system, expand their use.
Inspection Drones: Definition/Overview
- Drone technology has been used by defense organizations and tech-savvy consumers for quite some time. However, in the last couple of years, the growing need for remotely-operated inspection equipment has propelled the demand for inspection drones.
- Across the globe, inspection drones have been widely used in several applications such as security management, forest fire monitoring, traffic monitoring, oil & gas pipeline monitoring, solar panel, power line and windmill inspection, critical infrastructure inspection, and railways, roadways, and bridge inspection. Major growth drivers for the providers of different types of commercial drone services include the adoption of advanced inspection drones equipped with thermal cameras and GPS systems.
- Among the end-use industries, the military & defense segment holds a major share of the global inspection drones market. Moreover, the rising need for modernization and expansion of the oil & gas sector and growing requirement for remotely-operated devices are projected to propel the global market for inspection drones in the next few years.
Global Inspection Drones Market: Regional Overview
- North America is expected to hold the maximum share of the global inspection drones market during the forecast period, due to the early adoption of inspection drones in the region. South America and the Middle East & Africa hold a minor market share each. However, these regions are projected to provide lucrative opportunities to the inspection drones market during the forecast period.
- On the other hand, developing countries in Asia Pacific that are undergoing modernization and adopting advanced aerial inspection devices with new technology, are also witnessing increase in the demand for inspection drones. This, in turn, is driving the global inspection drones market.
Global Inspection Drones Market: Trends
- An inspection drone can be used for surveillance in cases where thermal images are required. A drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera can provide the firefighter with images of the situation and help locate people who need rescuing. This can help increase the efficiency of the operation and mitigate risks. Currently, major drone manufacturers are setting up drone pilot projects.
- Over time, dams and bridges continue growing older. Hence, dam and bridge facility inspection is becoming important so as to reduce failures that may cause loss of human life, economic loss, and/or damage to the environment. This factor is expected to increase the adoption of drone-based inspections across the globe in the near future. This, in turn, is expected to boost the global inspection drones market during the forecast period.
Global Inspection Drones Market: Drivers, Opportunities, and Restraints
- In the next few years, drones are likely to play an essential role in ensuring that the construction industry can complete large and complex projects on time, and with better finish. Increasing adoption of inspection drones in the construction industry is anticipated to create new opportunities for the manufacturers of inspection drones in the near future.
- On the flip side, the lack of skilled commercial drone pilots and technical issues related to battery life and operating range are expected to hinder the global inspection drones market during the forecast period.
Global Inspection Drones Market: Key Segments
The global inspection drones market has been segmented based on component, sales channel, application, end-use industry, and region.
- In terms of component, the global inspection drones market has been segregated into mainframes, brushless motors & electronic speed controllers (ESC), transmitters & receivers, flight controllers, and others.
- The transmitters & receivers segment was the dominant segment of the global inspection drones market in 2018.
- Among the components, the flight controllers segment is expected to hold the second-largest share of the global inspection drones market, in terms of revenue, during the forecast period.
- Sales Channel
- Based on sales channel, the global inspection drones market has been bifurcated into online and offline.
- The offline sales channel segment is expected to continue its dominance throughout the forecast period.
- Based on application, the global inspection drones market has been divided into oil & gas pipeline inspection, solar panels, power line and windmill inspection, critical infrastructure inspection, railways, roadways and bridge inspection, border security, and others.
- The border security application segment is expected to continue its dominance throughout the forecast period.
- End-use industry
- In terms of end-user industry, the global inspection drones market has been classified into oil, gas and petroleum, energy & utilities, military & defense, mining & construction, transportation, and others.
- The military & defense segment dominates the global inspection drones market, and is projected to continue its dominance throughout the forecast period.
- Across the globe, investments toward the development of power grid infrastructure, and the expansion and modernization of renewable energy infrastructure are increasing. This factor is also expected to augment the adoption of inspection drones in the next few years.
Global Inspection Drones Market: Competition Dynamics
- Attracted by the growth of the global inspection drones market and the underlying latent demand for inspection drones, several players operating in the global inspection drones market are expanding their businesses through new product development, strategic mergers and acquisitions, and partnerships.
Some of the prominent players operating in the global inspection drones market are
- 3D Robotics, Inc.
- Acecore Technologies
- AeroVironment, Inc.
- Airobotics Ltd.
- Aeryon Skyranger
- Intel Corporation
- Lockheed Martin
- SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd.
- Yuneec International
- Delair Aerial Intelligence