The autonomous BVLOS drones market is projected to register a CAGR of more than 15% during the forecast period.
- The market is gaining traction, as the applications of these autonomous BVLOS drones are increasing, in tandem with the increasing need for enhancing efficiency and industrial productivity.
- Despite the high levels of growth, the lack of comprehensive regulatory standards for the use of these drones in the civilian airspace is challenging the widespread adoption of these drones.
Key Market Trends
Military Segment Held the Largest Market Share in 2019
Currently, the military segment has the largest market share in the autonomous BVLOS drones market. Autonomous drones are being used for various purposes in the military, like aerial warfare and ISR applications. The revenues have been higher from the military segment, as militaries mostly use large UAVs with higher unit prices. In addition to the existing models of autonomous BVLOS drones, new drones are also being produced. For instance, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is building an experimental stealthy UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle), which is called the Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie, for the United States Air Force Low-cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator (LCASD) program. In January 2020, the UAV demonstrator successfully completed its fourth flight test. The use of autonomous BVLOS drones was mainly limited to the military in the past. However, presently, these drones are being vigorously adopted for commercial purposes, for aerial mapping, surveying, and inspection purposes over long distances. In addition, the increasing demand for last-mile drone delivery is boosting the autonomous BVLOS drones market in the civil and commercial sector, which is expected to propel the segment to register a higher CAGR during the forecast period.
North America Continues to Dominate the Autonomous BVLOS Drones Market
In 2019, North America held the largest market share in the autonomous BVLOS drones market. The demand from the United States has been the prime reason for the large share of the market. In the United States, autonomous BVLOS drones are being used for many applications. While most of the demand is from the military, progress is being made toward integrating small drones into the airspace and obtaining the necessary regulatory approval of BVLOS flights from the FAA. In 2019, the FAA gave permissions to a handful of companies taking part in its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) IPP, or the Integrated Pilot Program, to make autonomous BVLOS flights using the onboard detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems. Driven by this factor, many new autonomous BVLOS drones took flight in 2019 in the United States. For instance, in November 2019, the Kansas Department of Transportation's (KDOT) UAS IPP successfully completed the first beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operation using an onboard detect-and-avoid system called Casia, developed by Iris Automation, a computer vision start-up. The operation included a nine-mile BVLOS inspection of transmission lines without visual observers or ground-based radar systems. Such developments are expected to further boost the market growth during the forecast period, thereby, helping the region witness the highest growth rate in the market.
AeroVironment Inc., Elbit Systems Ltd, General Atomics, The Boeing Company, and Sensefly (Parrot Drones SAS) are some of the major players in the market. Over the years, the slow progress in regulatory approvals in many countries has forced several players in the industry, whose business models rely completely on BVLOS approval, to shut down their operations. This is because the companies were unable to sustain the company operations without mass production and demand for longer periods. Nevertheless, with countries giving the necessary regulatory approvals for the autonomous BVLOS operations, players may find it easier to enter and sustain in the market. For instance, in December 2019, the approvals given by India’s Civil Aviation Authority for testing the autonomous BVLOS drones helped the Google-backed hyperlocal delivery start-up, Dunzo, and Bengaluru-based drone maker, Throttle Aerospace Systems, to test their long-range and autonomous drones in the country. Such developments are expected to further intensify the competition in the market, by enabling the entry of new players.
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