Report: UAS industry shows exponential growth since 2016

By Patrick C. Miller | March 26, 2019

The unmanned aircraft system (UAS) industry has experienced exponential growth over the past two years, according to a report recently released by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Danish Technological Institute.

The report—titled “Global Trends of Unmanned Aerial Systems”—found that 80 percent of patents associated with UAS technologies have been published since 2016. In addition, the report noted that the U.S. has developed 628 unique drone platforms, followed by China with 309 and France with 114. These conclusions are based on an analysis of data from AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems and Robotics Database.

“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, AUVSI president and CEO. “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.” 

Other findings from the report, which provides a snapshot of the capabilities and technological specifications of UAS, include:

-       Nearly 80 percent of the 2,185 platforms analyzed are used in the civil market, while 65 percent are used for commercial purposes.

-       Roughly half of the platforms analyzed can be used for precision agriculture purposes, such as monitoring crop health and irrigation.

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

Stig Yding Sørensen, senior specialist at the Danish Technological Institute, said, “The development of UAS platforms is crucial, but the huge commercial value lies in their integration with other advanced technologies. 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 its 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,” he added.