The future of the technology industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with drones being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on consumer electronics companies. A detailed analysis of the theme, insights into the leading companies, and their thematic and valuation scorecards are included in GlobalData’s thematic research report,Drones – Thematic Research. Buy the report here.
Unmanned aerial vehicles—UAVs or, more commonly, drones—have been around for decades, but with innovations and rising investments, their popularity has grown significantly in the last three years. Drones have moved beyond military applications and have become more widely used by both consumers and enterprises. This has been supported by advances in technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI). According to GlobalData, the market share of commercial drones in the global drones market will increase from 34% in 2021 to 64% in 2030. Revenue from commercial drones will surpass military sales by 2025, backed by favourable regulations and an increase in beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. Collaboration among drone manufacturers, aviation companies, and regulators will enable the wider deployment of BVLOS flights. As regulations gradually relax, the use of drones across sectors will likely increase in the next three years.
However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.
According to GlobalData’s thematic research report Drones, leading adopters include: Microsoft, Alphabet, Sony, Amazon, Honeywell, Parrot, Huawei, DJI, Alibaba, LG Electronics and Yuneec.
Insights from top ranked companies
Amazon introduced the concept of drone delivery systems in 2013 before bringing it to reality with the launch of Prime Air in 2016. The first delivery was demonstrated in the UK, following which it received approval to operate in Japan (under certain restrictions). To gain regulatory approval in major countries, the company spent billions of dollars on developing a transportation and logistics network, which addresses concerns over safety and data transmission vulnerabilities. However, Prime Air struggled in the UK due to a high employee turnover rate and potential safety concerns. In November 2021, over 100 UK employees lost their jobs, and the company shut down its French R&D facility. Prime Air’s future appeared uncertain, but in June 2022, Amazon announced plans to launch drone delivery in Lockeford, California. Eventually, the company plans to extend drone delivery to additional locations in the US. To support its expansion plans, Amazon will take advantage of the logistics network it has built over the past few years.
Microsoft is pursuing opportunities to expand its AI capabilities in the drone market. It has partnered with DJI to provide the Azure platform and Windows 10 to commercial drone operators across the agriculture, construction, and public safety sectors. Microsoft, along with Qualcomm, has created an AI developer kit for ecomputer vision in cameras used on drones and in smart homes. Microsoft envisions large enterprises integrating drones into industrial operations, which will drive increasing demand for real-time mapping. Microsoft has also developed AirSim, an open-source robotics simulation platform that captures images and uses a custom vision service to find objects or people using AI. The platform creates a 3D version of the real environment. It is used in precision agriculture, pathogen surveillance, and weather monitoring. The simulator is built on the Unreal Engine, and Microsoft plans to add support for other industrial robots and autonomous vehicles. AirSim can simulate the flight of MAVLink and DJI drones and supports PX4 and ArduPilot flight controllers.
Google has been investing in drone technology for several years. Its drone delivery initiative, Wing, began commercial service in Dallas in April 2022, having fulfilled 200,000 deliveries in the US, Australia, and Finland. Wing has been most successful in Australia, with around 50,000 completed deliveries in Logan alone. In Dallas, Google has partnered with select retailers, including Walgreens, Blue Bell Creameries, Easyvet, and Texas Health. Wing’s drones can function as both fixed-wing aircraft and hovering copters. The company has also invested in several start-ups, including Airware, Abundant Robotics, and Carbon, to develop drone technologies.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Drones.
- Samsung Electronics
- LG Electronics
- Seiko Epson
- H P
- Snap One
- Quanta Computer