The need for adopting drone services as an important part of farming processes is driven by a large group of end users, including farmers, who are moving towards smartly integrating the information gathered by these drones for pesticide management and better irrigation methodologies. Infrared and high-precision images of crops and soil quality that help farmers to ascertain the stress levels of crops and their growth parameters will continue to fuel the demand for drone services in the agricultural sector.
In 2018, the drone services market reached a valuation of ~US$ 2.6 billion, and the agriculture sector accounted for ~one-fourth revenue share of the market. Farmers are amassing to embrace this technology for the management of various crop dynamics such as aquaponics, crop rotation, crop protection, organic farming, and bio-waste management, and this is spurring the demand for drone services in the agriculture sector.
When Artificial Intelligence is applied in conjunction with high resolution images, it gives important insights to farmers about crop health, crop yield, and soil health. This also allows farmers to take remedial steps towards disease prevention. Soil-based sensor data extracted from drones gives actionable insights to stakeholders to take necessary action in reducing the impact of environmental changes. The wide range of applications of drones in the area of agriculture will be a key driving factor bolstering the growth of the drone services market.
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Solar-powered Drones Soar to New Heights
With restricted battery life acting as a deterrent, solar-powered drones offer a vast plethora of possibilities to important stakeholders in the drone services market. Solar-powered drones can fly for hours as long as there is sunlight. Since they are lightweight, not limited by flight time, have the ability to take off from any flat surface, and fly out in a controlled manner using a global positioning system, they are emerging as a practical and cost-effective utility option in the drone services market.
With long-awaited rules and regulations on the operations of drones and unmanned aerial aircrafts being passed, the drone services industry is likely to propel ahead and mushroom, especially in segments that use solar power as a renewable energy source. The market for drone services has vastly expanded due to their usage in solar and wind plants, as these services are helping solar energy developers meet tight deadlines and identify quick economic solutions.
Aerial Photography Holds One-fourth Share while New Opportunities Abound in Logistics
Prior to the advent of drones, taking photographs from the air required the usage of costly fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. However, as the availability of low-cost drones with high resolution cameras is increasing, the applications of drones in the aerial photography landscape have reached new heights in the recent years.
Filmmakers and photographers routinely use these high resolution drone cameras for photography projects involving landscapes, real estate, wildlife, filmmaking, and weddings. Furthermore, innovations and the latest trends in camera technology will leave a significant and indelible impact on the increasing use of drone services in the media & entertainment industry. While the adoption of drone services in the media & entertainment area is increasing rapidly, lucrative opportunities are abound in the logistics sector. The technology to make drone deliveries a reality definitely exists, and it has been considered by leading companies, such as Amazon, to be the future of the transportation and logistics industry.
Applications of drones in ocean freight envisages their usage in tracking shipments and cargo in real time, as well as their timely loading and unloading, thus saving manufacturers time and money. Drones can also supplement rail freight by removing packages and speedily delivering them, eventually reducing travel time and rail freight costs. A day will also dawn when drones will be the cheaper and more environmental-friendly alternative to air freighting, paving the way for immense cost savings and breakthrough point-to-point routing.
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North America Remains Top Revenue Pocket with Larger Penetration of Technologies
The adoption of drone services in various industrial areas in North America surpassed the US$ 1 billion mark in 2018, and the increasing use of technologically-advanced drones is creating a favorable environment for drone service providers in the region. Along with the newly-evolved sensor technology integration in drone services, we are also likely to see robust tech-driven advancements such as drone software powered by Artificial Intelligence and the interpretation of data from IoT (Internet of Things) sensors.
Some of the bigger achievements come in the form of workflow integration, predictive maintenance, and enterprise asset management systems. The adoption of such highly-advanced enterprise systems through drone services among various organizations will continue to drive the drone services market. Businesses across multiple industries in North America realize that, drones have versatile uses, such as insurance companies using drones to inspect the damaged assets, or farmers utilizing drones to monitor their crops or collect soil data.
Apart from increasing investments in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the focus for drone service providers is expanding in high-profile industrial areas such as military & defense and security & intelligence, and this will continue to be a key trend in North America contributing to the development of the drone services market.
Stringent Regulations Continue to Influence Market Players’ Strategies
Since the widespread utilization of drones in myriad spheres is still catching up, the legislation and regulatory process is tedious and still in its nascent stage. Moreover, federal regulations in countries such as the United States are strict, not allowing drones to trespass over federal property, fly at night close to an airport, and fly below a certain level, or fly with weight restrictions. Key questions that will continue to perplex authorities and restrain the drone services market is airspace property rights and the aerial trespassing of property, which is viewed as a breach by land owners. A failure to test and validate emerging technologies and prevent aerial mishaps caused by drones will hinder the growth of the market.
Scanning the Competitive Landscape
The drone services market is growing by leaps and bounds, at a staggering CAGR of 32.5%, and leading players such as DroneDeploy and Sharper Shape have consolidated their position through robust research & development capabilities and the adoption of next-generation technologies.
DroneDeploy, an established market player in the drone services industry, is harnessing the lethal power of a skilled workforce and a diversified product portfolio in drone technology for higher market penetration. In July 2019, DroneDeploy announced a massive expansion of its product portfolio, making it a single enterprise platform that manages its versatile drone operations, including enhanced data analytics, superior workflow integrations, and innovative inspection modes.
Sharper Shape, a drone Software-as-a-Service company, is focusing on automating large processes of utility inspections. The company is capturing large areas of the market due to its research & development initiatives, and tapping into emerging markets to enhance their profitability. Sharper Shape creates advanced sensors and cloud-based applications for the electric utility industry. Its core expertise lies in the automation of inspections, making them fast and affordable, which has been one of its key strategies for growth.
New entrants in the drone services market, such as Phoenix Drone Services and Identified Technologies, have been harnessing the power of emerging technologies and have been strengthening their position in the global market through well-timed partnerships. Phoenix Drone Services has been the proponent of aerial photography, videography, construction site monitoring, and civil engineering, to get entry into newer markets. It has partnered with MicaSence and senseFly to provide the best sensors for drones. Along with expansion, they have been investing hugely in research & development in order to meet the changing requirements of customers. Identified Technology has partnered with Landmark Construction to automate the tracking of the Earth moving with the help of a drone mapping solution.
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