It is grossly misleading that most reporting on unmanned aerial vehicles UAV has recently concentrated on the sideshow of toy multicopters going out of fashion. We also are told of toy and other simple versions dropping 70% in price, with more to come, so manufacturers and investors outside China, who should have known better, are wiped out. Investment is now virtually impossible to obtain, they say.
There is a different reality. Drones are overcoming problems of direct human involvement in dirty, dangerous, boring, slow and imprecise operations that need to be done better and they will even be used for currently impossible tasks. IDTechEx forecasted the price collapse of toys but also the huge opportunities in specialist hardware and most software and services elsewhere.
This report reveals a parallel universe of drones of all sizes receiving billions of dollars of investment so they and their associated services create multi-billion dollar markets in hardware and services. It is an amazing world of tethered and upper atmosphere drones staying up for years, some creating 100kW of electricity and others beaming the internet to 4.5 billion people still waiting for it. Contrary to popular opinion, IDTechEx reveals that the next advances in hardware and software mainly revolve around autonomy and energy independence. Swarming theory and endowment of curiosity will transform security and other applications. Here is the only report encompassing all of this, based on new research worldwide carried out by multilingual PhD level analysts. For those wanting even more on specifics, there are related reports on robotics, electric vehicles, agribots and so on and all IDTechEx reports have 30 minutes of free consultancy attached.
Here we have over 160 pages of densely packed but easily understood PowerPoint infograms, forecasts and roadmaps involving over 400 players with the most significant work identified using a profusion of images. There is an executive summary with the technology and evolving uses crisply explained followed by detailed evaluation of players, market forecasts and roadmaps. Alternative forecasts by others are also presented.
The introduction chapter looks at definitions and briefly introduces key aspects that are more fully analysed in the subsequent chapters on applications, possibilities and next technologies. However, this is not the madcap enthusiasm that mars so many other publications. Following the collapse of the toy market and commoditisation of simple drones for photography, IDTechEx forecasts disillusion setting in with postal delivery by drone in dense urban environments for example, giving reasons. On the other hand the report reveals many gaps in the markets that are opening up including several technologies and applications not reported in any other drone publications.
Because IDTechEx has carried out deep research on allied subjects such as autonomous, energy independent and electric vehicles in general and new sensor technology, this report benchmarks what is going on in other sectors. It avoids the tunnel vision of other commentators. Learn where there are better alternatives for some drone applications but huge opportunities for others soon to be trialled, such as autonomous, helium-filled aerofoils carrying heavy freight across continents and postal drones in remote areas that avoid most of the problems by dropping parcels not landing. How will we get the necessary ultra-efficient powertrains? What is the route to new regeneration creating on-board electricity instead of wasted heat and movement? How do we make viable the new forms of energy harvesting of ambient energy such as sun and wind? It is all here. The report ends with examples of insightful interviews recently carried out across the world.
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Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Purpose of this report
Definitions and comparison
Electric UAV types
Acronyms, market drivers and uses
Why electrify? What is the end game?
Why have autonomy?
Why seek autonomy of navigation, task and power together?
Autonomy of navigation, task and energy usually happening first in the air
Electric UAV formats
Contrast non-electric UAVs
Military UAS system evolution to electric
Convergence of technologies and new challenges
Some operational, technical and ethical challenges of UAVs
Tightening legal constraints
UAV autonomy propositions in context of other autonomous vehicles
Companies in the drone value chain
Top drone company ranking Q3 2016 by interest not sales
IDTechEx seven forecasting categories for electric UAV craft explained
2017: Year of disillusion when savvy investors see their chance
2018-2027 Many enduring successes for electric UAVs: excellent VC exits as large companies buy their way in
Total electric UAV market
IDTechEx forecasts for seven electric UAV categories 2017-2027 - Numbers
Total electric UAV market - discussion
Commercial drone-enabled revenue
Examples of drone retail pricing excluding system
IDTechEx agricultural robots and drones ten-year forecasts
Optimistic forecasts made before the 2016 industry shakeout may now be revised
Independent view of commercial and prosumer potential using different drone definition
Visit to Aerosense Tokyo - August 2017
Arctic Solar Drone
Terminology and value chain
Drone and UAV
Value chain elements
Some potentially leading applications
Military, agriculture etc.
Upper atmosphere internet delivery, surveillance
Design of electric UAVs
Ducted fan gains share: Finnmeccanica
New principles of flight
Rated power vs energy stored by technology
The role of energy storage technologies in electric vehicles