Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), also commonly referred as drone, is a type of an aircraft that does not have any passengers or pilot onboard. It is either operated remotely by a human pilot, or by an onboard computer, or controlled autonomously. Small UAVs are mainly classified based on their size, and typically are the ones with a wingspan of less than 2 meters. These UAVs are small enough to be carried and operated by a single person. Small UAVs can be hand-launched, can have vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), or short take-off and landing (STOL) capability. Majority of the small UAVs as of 2015 are either electric-powered or solar-powered. A few of them are also powered by fuel (mostly the ones in military and defense applications). Most of the small UAVs are hand launched (thrown in air by hand) and many of the configurations in this category are based on the fixed-wing platform.
Market Driving Factors
One of the drivers for global small UAV market is the rise in demand for civil or commercial applications. Improvements in technology and economical acquisition and operation have led to the rapid growth of commercial small UAVs market. Commercial UAVs are being used for surveying, aerial photography, oil & gas pipeline monitoring, 3D mapping, wind turbine blade inspection, and many other similar applications. Furthermore, emerging markets in Asia Pacific, South America, and the Middle East have prioritized the increased utilization of UAVs, mainly for military applications, which have helped the market growth.
However, many of the small UAVs are used in military applications, including ISR and spy missions. Thus, with the ongoing defense budget cuts in the U.S. and economic slowdown in Europe, it is expected that it could affect the military small UAV market to some extent. Also, most of the small operational UAVs as of 2015 are electric-powered by batteries. One of the major challenges with these electric-powered UAVs is their limited battery life and flight range.
As a result, the global small UAV market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 6% during the forecast period 2018-2023.
The key players of global small UAV market are AeroVironment, Inc. (US), Aibotix (Germany), BAE Systems (UK), DJI (China), Elbit Systems Ltd. (Israel), Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (Israel), Lockheed Martin (US), Prox Dynamics (Norway), SAAB (Sweden), and Thales Group (France).
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