The Drone Market Environment – Disruption in 2018

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It seems impossible to stay on top of all the major changes that are going on in the drone industry, so here’s a list of some trends to keep a close eye on this year:

For Platform Manufacturers:

  • Lots of consolidation is happening–mergers, acquisitions, drop-outs and market focus changes.
  • Trends towards strong specialization–agriculture, delivery systems and safety and security are some of the bigger industries that are seeing the development of specialization.
  • Autonomous Air Taxis (AAT) (i.e. flying cars) will be in the forefront–lots of funding in this space.
  • Drone racing events and selfie drones will continue to define the industry.

In Software:

  • A great need for artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms is out there–with these types of algorithms, drones can automate processes even more, and in turn, provide more value.
  • Providing one piece of the puzzle might not be enough–more strategic software partnerships will form to provide end-to-end solutions.

In Service:

  • Drone logistics services are on the rise.
  • Drone show providers are becoming all the buzz–whether drones are being used to carry out a half-time show or indoor entertainment, this area is on the rise.
  • Standard configurations of drones are not cutting it–there is a great need for more industry-specific configurations.
  • Drones as a Service (DaaS) have matured and more big businesses will start utilizing these services when in-house operations don’t make sense.

In Counter-UAS:

  • Big funding and large international partnerships are forming in this area.
  • One of the biggest concerns is limitations for physical and non-physical systems that include jammer restrictions (federal network agency) and problems for health in public spaces (e.g. pacemakers).

In Components and Systems:

  • More businesses (and government entities) need launch and recovery because of high-priced equipment and flights in populated areas that require rigorous safety measures.
  • Hybrid systems (i.e. battery/fuel cell, gas/battery) will be essential for longer flights and endurance.
  • Encrypted data links will also be essential–standard drone-to-ground communication is quite vulnerable otherwise.

The big pictures? Machine learning for drones (in navigation and analytics) is driving numerous developments; the degree of automation and adoption of drone technology will further increase throughout the year. All of these developments and trends are indicative of how and why 2018 will be a big (and exciting) year for drones.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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