The small drone market is projected to grow from USD 3.8 billion in 2022 to USD 6.2 Billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 10.1% from 2022 to 2027.
Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (SUAVs) or small drones are remotely piloted aerial vehicles that have significant roles in the defense as well as commercial sectors. They are used in commercial applications such as monitoring, surveying & mapping, aerial remote sensing, precision agriculture, and product delivery, as well as military applications such as military attacks and border surveillance. SUAVs are adopted by the oil & gas, railway, power plant, and construction industries. The use of small drones for new applications, such as cargo delivery in the commercial & defense sectors, is expected to drive the growth of the market across the globe.
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Small drones are replacing manned aircraft in the defense sector, as they can be operated remotely by human operators or autonomously by onboard computers. The small drone market has been witnessing significant growth over the past decade due to the increased use of small drones in military applications.
Superior endurance capability and low operating costs have resulted in the increased production of small drones, which is another significant factor projected to drive the growth of the small drone market. Various new military applications are being discovered wherein small drones can be used. One of these applications involves the use of small drones for the delivery of commercial and military cargo. These drones can also be used to resupply soldiers on the battlefield.
With the incorporation of new technologies such as AI, sense & avoid systems, and cloud computing in UAVs, the demand for small drones is expected to increase in various sectors. The incorporation of AI in small drones is expected to enhance their abilities by providing them with human-like thinking capabilities. AI is expected to enable small drones to carry out various activities, such as take-off, navigation, data capture, data transmission, and data analysis, without human intervention. However, there are several challenges faced by manufacturers of small drones, which include the integration of UAVs with the existing air traffic systems. Restrictions imposed on the use of small drones in civil & commercial applications by governments of various countries worldwide are also acting as a key challenge impacting the growth of the small drone market.
Major players like DJI (China), Parrot Drone SAS (France), Israel Aerospace Industry Ltd. (Israel), AeroVironment, Inc. (US), and Lockheed Martin Corporation (US) have adopted various growth strategies such as contracts, agreements, acquisitions, expansions, new product launches, partnerships & certifications, investments, venture capital funding, new service launches, and research & development (R&D) activities to further expand their presence in the small drone market.
SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. (DJI) is a global leader in the manufacturing of commercial small drones. The company offer a wide range of small drones and associated components such as light controllers, propulsion systems, aerial and handheld camera gimbals, and other drone accessories. The company provide its solutions for various applications such as energy, agriculture, entertainment, infrastructure, public safety, and construction sectors. The company expand its business by providing solutions by establishing DJI-operated stores and retail stores across the world. The company has its own in-house research and development and manufacturing facilities in China. It has offices in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, China, and Hong Kong. The company generates most of its revenue from the US and China. It has received funding to the tune of ~USD 105 million to date from various investors.
Parrot Drone SAS
Parrot Drone SAS, commonly known as Parrot, is one of the key players in the small drone market. It designs, develops, and markets unmanned technology products for hobbyists and professionals across the world. Its offerings include drones, accessories, and support services. The company consists of four main segments: Parrot Drones, Pix4D, Parrot SA, and SenseFly. The company provides a wide range of mini drones, including Swing, Hydrofoil, Jumping Range, Airborne Range, Rolling Spider, and AR drones, among others. Some key subsidiaries of Parrot Drone SAS include SenseFly SA (Switzerland), Pix4D (Switzerland), Parrot Inc. (France), Parrot Italia S.r.l. (Italy), and Parrot GmbH (Germany). The company has a customer base in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Parrot has a strong presence and generates most of its revenue from the US and the UK. The company has its own in-house R&D facility for small UAV products. It offers products for surveying and mapping, mining and quarrying, engineering and construction, agriculture, environment, and humanitarian applications. Parrot also offers products through its fully owned subsidiary, SenseFly. The subsidiary Micasense (sensors) was sold in January and did not contribute to 2021 revenues, while the subsidiaries SenseFly SA and SenseFly Inc (fixed-wing drones) were divested in October and contributed to revenues until October 19, 2021.
Israel Aerospace Industry Ltd.
Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) is a leading manufacturer in both defense and commercial markets and delivers state-of-the-art technologies and systems in all domains. The company provides a wide range of solutions and services for aerial defense—from special mission aircraft and advanced unmanned aerial systems (UAS)—to precision-guided munitions, multi-layered missile defense, loitering munitions, upgrades for military aircraft and helicopters, and sophisticated C4I, ISTAR, and navigation systems. It operates in varied markets around the world, from North America through Brazil and Colombia in the South and India and South Korea in the East to Germany in Europe.
AeroVironment, Inc. designs, develops, produces, supports, and operates a technologically‑advanced portfolio of products and services for government agencies and businesses. The company supplies small drone-related services primarily to organizations within the US Department of Defense and to international allied governments, and tactical missile systems and related services to organizations within the US Government. The company is currently focusing on the development of nano air vehicles (NAVs) under a DARPA-sponsored research contract. This new class of air vehicles is mainly designed by considering indoor and outdoor operation needs. AeroVironment’s small drones, including Raven, Wasp AE, and Puma AE, are designed to operate reliably at very low altitudes in a wide range of environmental conditions, providing a vantage point from which to collect and deliver valuable information. Military forces employ small drones to deliver ISR and communications, including real‑time tactical reconnaissance, tracking, combat assessment, and geographic data, directly to the small tactical unit or individual operator, thereby increasing flexibility in mission planning and execution. In commercial applications, small drones enable enterprises to manage valuable assets such as crops, powerlines, and railroad infrastructure.
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Lockheed Martin Corporation is pioneer in design, development, and integration of advanced technology systems and associated solutions. The company majorly serves aerospace and defense and information security and technology sectors. The company operates through four major segments such as missiles and fire control, aeronautics, space, and rotary and mission systems. Lockheed Martin Corporation has established 572 manufacturing plants in 500 cities. The company has strong base in US with presence in all 50 states. Company’s aeronautics segment is involved in R&D, manufacturing, sustainment, integration, support, and upgrade of advanced military aircraft activities. Company’s, military aircraft product portfolio includes unmanned air vehicles, combat and air mobility aircraft, and related technologies. Some subsidiaries of Lockheed Martin are Lockheed Martin Australia Pty Limited (Australia), Lockheed Martin UK Limited (UK), Lockheed Martin Canada Inc. (Canada), Lockheed Martin Global, Inc. (US), and Lockheed Martin Logistics Management, Inc. (US).
Small Drone Market by Platform (Civil & Commercial and Defense & Government), Type (Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, and Hybrid), Application, Mode of Operation, Power Source (Fully Powered, Battery Powered) & Region – Global Forecast to 2027
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