Drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are unmanned aircrafts that are remotely controlled. Utility drones are unmanned aircrafts that are used in utility industries. These drones provide services such as surveying, inspection, and maintenance of power generation, transmission and distribution systems across the world. The power components that are monitored include wind turbine farms and turbine blades, solar panel arrays, distribution and transmission cell towers, cooling towers and chimney, sub-stations, power lines and other power distribution components.
Utility drones are equipped with infra-red cameras of very high resolution that can capture minute details in a power infrastructure. Through these cameras, drones take detailed images of power infrastructure. The infra-red cameras also have thermal imaging and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) capabilities which helps drones to detect overheated power components such as overheating of cables, transformers, etc.
These drones first capture images that are sent for analysis, and preventative actions are taken based on data analysis. Utility drones help in assessment of damage to power lines in case of a storm and help in creating 2D / 3D models of power infrastructure that helps in locating defects in power infrastructure. Utility drones also help in detection of intruder vehicles in a power infrastructure site and help in management of vegetation which encroach the power infrastructure.
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In the U.S., Federal Aviation Administration has passed a regulation for commercial use of drones in the power sector. This is increasing the demand for use of commercial drones in the power and utility sector in the U.S. and other North American regions. Using manpower in power transmission and distribution infrastructure inspection is costly and risky. Utility drones can be used effectively in managing power infrastructure assets. Inspection of power infrastructure by a drone consumes very little time when compared to time consumed in manual inspection of power infrastructure, thus saving man-hour and cost. This is leading to increasing demand for drones in managing power infrastructure assets.
Rising industrialization in emerging economies such as China, India, and other Asia Pacific countries are increasing the demand for power which is subsequently increasing the number of power transmission and distribution towers and power infrastructure assets. Rising power infrastructure assets is increasing the demand for surveying, inspection, and maintenance of these assets which is subsequently increasing the demand for utility drones in the power and utility sector in the Asia Pacific region.
In terms of type, the global utility drones market is segmented into multi-rotor and fixed wing. Based on services, the utility drones market is divided into end-to-end solution and point solution. Based on end-use industry, the utility drones market is segmented into conventional power and renewable power. The conventional power industry is further sub-segmented into power generation and power transmission & distribution. Renewable power industry is also further sub-segmented into solar and wind energy.
By geography, the global utility drones market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and South America. Among all the regions, North America is a prominent market. The U.S. is anticipated to be the largest utility drones market in North America followed by Canada. Europe is a significant utility drones market, with Germany expected to be the largest market in the region.
The U.K., France, Spain, and Italy are other prominent utility drones market in Europe. In Asia Pacific, China is anticipated to be the largest market, and India, Japan, and South Korea are other prominent markets in the region. Middle East & Africa is another prominent market. GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries are expected to constitute the largest market in the region. In Africa, South Africa is a major utility drones market. South America is another significant utility drones market, dominated by Brazil which is followed by Argentina.
Major companies operating in the global utility drones market are Aerodyne Group, Asset Drone, ABJ Drones, Cyberhawk, Delair, Hemav, Measure, Terra Drone Corporation, Sky-Futures Ltd., and PrecisionHawk among others.