The Sky’s the Limit: Report Finds Exponential Growth in Unmanned Aerial Systems Industry

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) today released a new report, “Global Trends of Unmanned Aerial Systems.” The report, which analyzes data from AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems and Robotics Database, finds that 80 percent of patents associated with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technologies have been published since 2016, demonstrating the exponential growth of the unmanned systems industry.

“It is an exciting time for the UAS industry, which is reflected in the sheer number of new technologies entering the market,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “In order to harness this innovation and help keep the U.S. competitive as the global UAS market continues to emerge, we need a streamlined regulatory environment that allows for expanded operations and would enable even more transformative uses of this technology.”

“The global growth in UAS technologies is remarkable and paints a picture of technology developers, investors and governments with great confidence in a solid and growing UAS commercial market in the years to come,” said Stig Yding Sørensen, Senior Specialist at DTI. “Civilian use of UAS is still in the early stages, and flight times, operational range, safety, operating systems, load capacity, etc., can still be improved. European legislation is being adapted on a regular basis but will inevitably lag behind technological developments.”

The United States leads the market for UAS platforms with 628 unique UAS models. China ranks second but only accounts for half as many platforms as the US corresponding to a total of 309 unique UAS models.

As expected, the development of types of UAS made for the military market have the largest concentration in the United States. Since the United States has a continuously and highly developing military force it makes sense that UAS for military uses should be manufactured in this region. Meanwhile, developments of consumer platforms appear to be growing in China compared to other parts of the world.

Nearly 1,350 of the 2,185 platforms analyzed for the report can assist in search and rescue operations after natural disasters. These platforms have greater than average speed and endurance capabilities to help improve the success of their searches for survivors.

“The development of UAS platforms is crucial, but the huge commercial value lies in their integration with other advanced technologies,” added Sørensen. “A camera is still the most common piece of equipment and is used by photographers and others to record films and take photos. However, it is integration with smart technologies, such as sensors, connection to the internet, use of artificial intelligence and managing tools, that can create serious value. It gives new perspectives for almost all parts of trade and industry.” 

Read the full report here

Kylie Bielby has 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. She is an editor and contributor for Jane's by IHS Markit, a columnist for security and counter-terror publications, and a former managing editor for Homeland Security Today.

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