Developments in Unmanned Air Systems
The unmanned air systems industry continues to be buoyed by estimations and projections of unfettered growth. Unmanned Systems Canada, for example, estimates $1.6 billion in revenue will be generated by Canada’s UAS sector in 2018.
Earlier this year, a Federal Aviation Administration report projected “phenomenal growth” for the UAS industry to 2022, predicting fourfold growth in the U.S.
The FAA estimates hobbyist drone volumes will more than double from 1.1 million in 2017 to 2.4 million in 2022 and the commercial UAS fleet could increase from nearly 111,000 in 2017 to more than 450,000 by 2022. In line with vehicle growth, the FAA expects the number of UAS pilots to grow from 74,000 in 2017 to more than 300,000 by 2022. UAS is largely developing its power in the ability to disrupt any number of commercial, military and industrial sectors. By 2022, there will be dozens of entirely new applications driving the expansion of drones, including a greater capability to integrate the strengths of both unmanned and manned systems into a single cooperative system.
Through May and June 2018, Blue Line magazine, which is controlled by UAV Canada’s parent company, Annex Business Media, surveyed Canadian law enforcement about its current drone use. When asked, What is the most popular use for your law enforcement UAV?, the response “collision reconstruction” led the way at 35.7 per cent. Search and rescue was the second most popular response at 21.4 per cent, followed by crowd monitoring and crime scene analysis both at 14.3 per cent.
An August 2018 Drone Efficacy Study issued by DJI, the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) and Black Channel sent randomly-selected teams of searchers to find simulated victims in the rugged landscape of Ireland and Wales. Thirty teams used off-the-shelf drones with standard visual cameras, while another 20 teams searched on foot using traditional protocols. Seventeen ground search teams found their victims, compared to 23 drone teams. The researchers conclude drone-assisted SAR procedures have not advanced enough to maximize the benefits of the technology, but the drone searchers did find their victims an average of 191 seconds faster. Supporting these findings of a developing ecosystem, when Blue Line asked, When did your law enforcement agency begin using an UAV system?, 42.9 per cent of respondents indicate in the past year. Sometime over the past 24 months was the second most popular response at 28.6 per cent.
Privacy concerns was by far the largest response from Blue Line’s question, What is the biggest concern with UAV systems being utilized in law enforcement today? Licensing and regulations, along with the speed of development came second, both at 26.7 per cent, while the price tag of the drones only reached 6.7 per cent. This low number around pricing, however, may be the view of public versus private investment.
Skylogic Research LLC, an advisory firm for commercial drones, in September 2018 released its third annual 2018 Drone Market Sector Report based on some 2,500 respondents representing more than 60 industries worldwide. One of the key findings of the report, according to the Skylogic’s Drone Analyst Website, is that commercial drone fleet sizes are smaller than most people think. The survey found that the average commercial user has just two drones that are flying two projects a month. Most of those flights, according to Drone Analyst, consume less than three flight hours.
An August 2018 report by market intelligence firm Tractica forecasts that global drone-enabled services revenue will increase from $337.6 million in 2017 to $22.7 billion annually by 2026, with cumulative revenue for the 10-year period totaling $62.1 billion. The firm anticipates that the three leading industries in the drone services market will be the film and media industry; the utility, energy, and infrastructure sectors; and the agriculture industry.