Com­mer­cial UAV mar­ket val­ued at $2.3 bil­lion


Anew re­search note from G2 So­lu­tions, “Com­mer­cial UAS Im­agery and In­for­ma­tion Mar­kets: Anal­y­sis and Forecast,” is now avail­able. The 21-page anal­y­sis de­fines the mar­ket space and plots in­cre­men­tal ac­cess to the US Na­tional Airspace (NAS) for un­manned ae­rial sys­tems (UAS).

“The US Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FAA) con­tin­ues to work un­der a 2015 man­date to open up the NAS to un­manned ae­rial Ve­hi­cles (UAVs), and the de­bate over tim­ing, airspace ac­cess and com­mer­cial busi­ness is in full swing,” said G2 So­lu­tions Re­search di­rec­tor Ron Stearns. “Given that im­agery and video col­lec­tion has been a core ca­pa­bil­ity of US De­part­ment of De­fense (DoD) UAS it’s a nat­u­ral tran­si­tion to lever­age equiv­a­lent data sets in US com­mer­cial mar­kets.”

The re­search plots growth in com­mer­cial UAS im­agery and in­for­ma­tion rev­enues with in­cre­men­tal and ex­pand­ing ac­cess to the NAS from 2015-to 2025. Ex­ist­ing users in civil­ian fed­eral, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments have a decades-long his­tory of us­ing ae­rial and satel­lite im­agery as a ba­sis for or­gan­i­sa­tional de­ci­sion mak­ing. This con­sti­tutes ev­ery­thing from land use and devel­op­ment to en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and re­me­di­a­tion. Purely com­mer­cial in­dus­tries such as forestry, oil and gas and min­eral ex­plo­ration also have a long his­tory of use for ex­plo­ration, ex­trac­tion, re­me­di­a­tion and ste­ward­ship.

Quasipub­lic in­dus­tries such as util­i­ties re­quire im­agery and in­for­ma­tion for cor­ri­dor/in­fra­struc­ture man­age­ment. There is an es­tab­lished mar­ket for im­agery and in­for­ma­tion within the US, with es­ti­mates of be­tween $4 bil­lion and $6 bil­lion in pur­chases of com­mer­cially-ob­tained im­agery and in­for­ma­tion from ae­rial and space-based sen­sors.

Com­pa­nies such as Gen­eral Atomics, Aero­nau­ti­cal Sys­tems In­cor­po­rated, Northrop Grum­man Cor­po­ra­tion and oth­ers have flown sys­tems on their UAVs in­tended to sat­isfy the FAA’s sense-and-avoid (SAA) man­date in or­der for UAVs to gain more nor­malised ac­cess to the NAS.

“Over time the de­bate will turn from anx­i­ety over sense-and-avoid to pro­ce­dural is­sues re­gard­ing the in­ter­play of UAVs and other air­craft in the NAS,” Stearns added.

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