The unmanned systems market is expected to grow at a CAGR of above 12% during the forecast period.
- The use of unmanned systems for combat and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions is gaining importance over the past few years for reducing troop casualties. Due to this, the armed forces are prioritizing the development and procurement of unmanned systems over the manned systems.
- The increasing use of unmanned systems in the commercial sectors, like UGVs in firefighting and agriculture, USVs for underwater sea exploration, and UAVs for disaster relief, recreational uses, and photo and videography, is expected to support the growth of the market during the forecast period.
- Significant investments into the emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence in the UAVs, UGVs, and USVs to make them autonomous are increasing. Such investments on autonomous systems are bringing various companies together to develop advanced autonomous vehicles.
Key Market Trends
The Unmanned Sea Systems Segment to Experience the Highest Growth During the Forecast Period
The unmanned sea systems segment of the market is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Currently, the use of unmanned sea systems is higher by various research organizations for deep-sea exploration. For instance, NASA in collaboration with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) launched Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog (SUBSEA) project in August 2018 for better understanding of the deepest parts of space, with the study of the environment in deep-sea. It launched Hercules and Argus robots to study the biology, geology, and chemistry at an area near the deep-sea volcano at the coast of Hawaii, which is similar to that of Saturn's moon, Enceladus. The use of autonomous surface and underwater vehicles by educational institutes is supporting this growth. Moreover, in the military sector, the US, China, and Russia are working towards increasing its fleet of unmanned sea systems.
The Asia-Pacific Region is Expected to Generate the Highest Demand During the Forecast Period
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to generate the highest demand for unmanned systems during the forecast period. This growth is primarily due to an increase in defense spending by the countries in this region, along with the changing regulations for the use of unmanned systems in the commercial sector. Countries, like India, Japan, and Indonesia, are currently working on the use of UAVs for transportation of parcels and cargo. Similarly, the development of UGVs is being carried out in South Korea, Japan, and China, among others for assisting their armed forces with a range of manual handling tasks, like moving heavy loads and field equipment, and casualty evacuations. The Government of Australia announced in mid-2018 that it plans to invest in procurement of UGVs, which may be used by the army following a 12-month evaluation trial. The market of unmanned sea systems in the Asia-Pacific region is in its initial stages compared to the UGVs and UAVs. South Korea in July 2019 unveiled the prototype of Hae Gum, an unmanned surface vessel (USV) designed for conducting maritime surveillance and reconnaissance in hostile environments at the Changwon Marine Defense Exhibition 2019.
The market for unmanned systems is highly fragmented, with a large number of suppliers who provide different unmanned platforms, like UAVs, UGVs, and USVs. The prominent players in the unmanned systems market are Lockheed Martin Corporation, BAE Systems plc, Saab AB, The Boeing Company, and Northrop Grumman Corporation. There are few players, like Saab AB, BAE Systems, and ECA Group among others who provide all types of unmanned systems, which help the companies to capitalize and expand their geographic presence, as well as diversify their cash flows. Product innovation is the major factor that aids companies in getting new contracts from the defense, as well as commercial sectors. In addition to this, the mergers and acquisitions of the local companies with the major companies are allowing them to expand their product portfolio and market presence. For instance, in the first quarter of 2019, FLIR Systems acquired Endeavor Robotics Holdings Inc., a manufacturer of tactical UGVs, and Aeryon Labs Inc., a manufacturer of high-performance UAS, expanded their product portfolio in the military, public safety, and critical infrastructure markets.
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