Wireless video and the commercial small drone market to bring operational efficiencies to new heights

Increasingly favorable regulatory environments expand the roles for small drones, also known as small unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAVs), in commercial applications. While autonomous flights received early attention from the public and press as companies like Amazon, Google, and Walmart explore the delivery channel, sUAVs with wireless video are already bringing operational efficiencies to end users. ABI Research forecasts inspection wireless video applications in the industrial and energy markets will lead the way in a commercial sUAV market approaching $1.3 billion by 2021.

“The commercial market relies on wireless video to provide operators unique and better views of infrastructure, landscapes, or machinery that would otherwise require more costly manned vehicles like helicopters,” says Michael Inouye, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “The wider commercial sUAV space includes autonomous flights, as well, but for those cases in which visual inspection or human control is necessary, digital wireless video will play a critical role in providing operators with enhanced imaging.”

HD wireless video provider AMIMON and China’s DJI are currently the leading providers of digital connections for wireless video technologies for sUAVs in commercial applications. While prosumer products comprise the largest market segment, holding nearly 70% revenue share today and expected to maintain close to 50% share into 2021, commercial products serve a critical role for more advanced operations that have higher performance demands. Commercial wireless video applications extend beyond the industrial and energy markets and include a wide breadth of target markets like search and rescue, reconnaissance, crime scene documentation, aerial photography, and real estate, among others.

“The primary limiting factors for the commercial sUAV market right now are regulations and society’s comfort level with the technology,” concludes Inouye. “The new FAA UAS regulations that went into effect in August are an example of steps taken in the right direction toward creating more a favorable operating environment and as sUAVs become more common, other concerns will start to fall to the wayside. In addition, new technologies like 5G and advanced machine vision/learning will also expand use cases and create ways to increase sUAVs’ value to the commercial markets.”

These findings are from ABI Research’s Wireless Video in the Small Unmanned Aircraft Market report.

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