The Asia-Pacific small UAV market is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 15% during the forecast period.
- The effectiveness of a small UAV is not limited to making deliveries and undertaking high-end photography missions or as surveillance devices or weaponized tools for the military. UAVs possess tremendous potential to transform urban and rural infrastructure and enhance agricultural productivity in developing countries. For instance, drones are also seen as a possible solution to infrastructure problems, especially in underdeveloped regions of Asia-Pacific, where air transportation could help meet the challenges posed by poor or non-existent road and rail networks.
- Since 2015, Amazon, Google, UPS, DHL, and Alibaba have been conducting high-profile drone delivery system experiments. In the future, small UAVs could augment, or in some situations even replace, truck fleets with important implications for energy consumption, air traffic management, road congestion, urban planning, and goods and service consumption patterns in urban areas.
Key Market Trends
Rotary-wing Segment Accounted for the Largest Market Share in 2019
The increase in the number of initiatives undertaken by OEMs toward indigenous development in the field of small UAVs is expected to boost the adoption rate of the technology through easier access to low-cost UAVs. The technology is expected to have significant implications for a myriad of industries, ranging from public safety to farming automation, from disaster relief to infrastructure maintenance. The increasing demand for commercial UAVs in APAC has encouraged several companies to launch new products in the market. For instance, in May 2016, Xiaomi, a Chinese technology company, launched the Mi Drone. It can attain flight for 27 minutes owing to a 4-propeller system with detachable shields and backing by a 5,100 mAh battery at 17.4V. Moreover, the camera attached to a 3-axis gimbal can stabilize up to 2,000 vibrations per second, offering up to 104-degree wide-angle lens.
Countries such as China, India, and Pakistan have been upgrading their respective inventories of military UAVs. Collaborative efforts are underway by dominant market players to capture the high growth potential of the market. In March 2016, the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced its intention to acquire over 5,000 UAVs worth nearly USD 3 billion over the next decade. This has resulted in Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) partnering with Bengaluru-based Dynamatic Technologies and Elcom Systems to cater to the production, assembly, and support of UAVs in India. As of July 2020, the Indian Army was looking to acquire the Firefly loitering munition UAV that can be deployed against multiple hostiles in entrenched positions.
Such collaborative efforts are not limited to the defense and homeland security segment. In May 2018, the commercial drone manufacturer DJI partnered with Microsoft for developing tablet apps that can pilot DJI’s drones, as opposed to relying on traditional controllers. This collaboration is expected to blend Microsoft’s machine learning capabilities with DJI’s drone hardware and enhance the autonomous capabilities of the UAVs. Such emerging developments are expected to help the rotary-wing segment of the Asia-Pacific small UAV market attain a stable growth during the forecast period.
China is the Largest Market For Small UAVs in Asia-Pacific
China has become a global hub for the design, development, and manufacturing of small UAVs. the widening plethora of applications that can be fulfilled by small UAVs is one of the main growth drivers in the country, According to the UAV guideline published by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the ministry has planned to establish and revise more than 200 rules covering the research, production, application and safety regulation of civilian drones. In July 2017, the State Council of China released the “New Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) Development Plan” to foster the adoption of AI on a national scale. The country envisions to emerge as a global leader in AI by 2030, and the Plan focuses on UAVs as one of its primary focus segments. As of 2019, an estimated 80% of all business to consumer (B2C) deliveries in the country were into the high-value, low-weight category. Thus, small UAVs are anticipated to be a disruptive force in last-mile delivery in China. In March 2018, Fengyu Shuntu Technology, a subsidiary of SF Express, the country's biggest logistics firm, received the first official permit from the Government to deliver packages via small UAVs. Following this, the courier company DHL initiated drone deliveries in China after partnering with the local drone manufacturer EHang. DHL's drone services program is the world’s first regular fully-automated and intelligent urban drone delivery service. Such developments create a positive outlook for market growth in China during the forecast period.
SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. (DJI), Yuneec Europe GmbH, Elbit Systems Ltd., Hubsan, and MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology Co., Ltd., are some of the major players in the market. The use of small UAVs is increasing in civil and commercial sectors, and in tandem, the number of commercial use-small UAV manufacturers has increased by several folds in the region. The number of drones and related component manufacturers in China is about 1200 in 2019, up from 130 manufacturers in 2013, which clearly shows the extent of fragmentation in the market. Small UAV manufacturers are constantly striving to improve the sensor payloads that help them in obtaining precise information for surveillance. Thus, the focus on producing sensors that are smaller, lighter, faster, cheaper, more reliable, more accurate, and more sensitive is expected to drive more innovations in the small UAV market. Further miniaturization of drones is being concentrated upon, and many drone models that are of the size of a human finger are being made available in the market. Also, work is being done to enhance the endurance of the small UAVs. The focus on such aspects in small UAVs is expected to make the players in the market increase their R&D expenditures during the forecast period.
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