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The global medical drone market size was USD 194.7 million in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with medical drones witnessing a positive demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a stellar growth of 30.8% in 2020 as compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The market is projected to grow from USD 254.7 million in 2021 to USD 1,410.9 million in 2028 at a CAGR of 27.70% in the 2021-2028 period. The sudden fall in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.
According to Geospatial World and Co-founder of Auterion, in the pre-pandemic world, industries and their experts had been dismissive and hesitant about the utility of drone technology in their respective industries. However, they have found it as an ultimate solution for efficiency and workforce safety in drone technology. The standardization of drone technology for varying utilities, the growing PX4 open source community, the high adoption rate of BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone flight, and accommodative new regulations worldwide are the factors that are anticipated to propel the market growth.
COVID-19 Pandemic Accelerated Adoption Rate of Drone Technology
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for time reduction of necessary medical supplies worldwide since the coronavirus outbreak and its resurgence of the second wave. According to UNICEF report, It has witnessed that there is a focus mainly on three primary use cases worldwide such as follows: -
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation, around eighteen countries worldwide have utilized drone technology for logistical purposes. Some countries have initiated experimentation and testing of unmanned technology for varying utilities across different industries. In contrast, others sustained or accelerated their regular delivery drones operations. The countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Ghana, Rwanda, and Malawi, are the major utilizers of drone systems for the delivery of medical supplies, pathological and blood samples, and commodities since 2016 and recently have been supplying COVID-19 supplies in remote places. The advantages that drones can facilitate in the COVID-19 context are on-demand just-in-time delivery, minimal physical contact, last-mile delivery to remote locations with an extended logistical network, and low viral or pathological transmission risk.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund,UNICEF reports, the utility of drones as means of aerial disinfectant spraying has been reported worldwide to contain viral transmission in the public outdoor spaces. Countries such as the U.S., the UAE, China, South Korea, Spain, and others have reportedly attempted to harness the benefits of aerial spraying. Companies with this drone technology have claimed to have the capability to disinfect 3 square kilometer area. However, aerial disinfectant spraying has too few scientific shreds of evidence to validate its efficiency and effectiveness.
The drone system deployment for public monitoring and surveillance applications as a non-invasive method has fueled the growth in the utility of drones by government agencies. This monitoring and surveillance by such agencies have gained a better situational awareness and guided the populace to follow pandemic guidelines through various means. In addition, some academic institutions have been using thermal imagery and artificial intelligence-based drone monitoring to trace the symptoms within the populace.
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Integration of AI and Development of Multi-drop Delivery Drones are Latest Trends
Recently, drone technology has been integrated with artificial intelligence for aerial mapping, monitoring and surveillance applications, infected patient tracking, and other medical applications. Thus owing to its varied application, a software firm, Folio3 Software Inc., designed AI-based drones that provide real-time data and analytics, aerial mapping, and others. Data collection from drone cameras is processed by custom-made AI algorithms that interpret the data and provide it. In addition, it uses AI for an autonomous UAVs to perform independently.
The company offers a drone AI automation solution that provides various applications for social distancing protocols, on-demand just-in-time delivery of blood, and other medical supplies. The company uses its AI cloud technology from leading software players such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. In April 2020, a startup in Kerala, India, AI Aerial Dynamics, developed an AI-based UAVs, Garud, that helps combat COVID-19 by monitoring body temperature, spraying disinfectants, and supplying essential commodities. It has a weight carrying capacity of up to 60kg.
High Demand for Drones for Healthcare Applications to Propel Market Growth
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation has accelerated the adoption rate and investment in drone technology for healthcare sector applications, monitoring and surveillance of public areas, and the advent of new logistical alternatives than the conventional supply chain modes. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, where human contact has been suspected to be a vehicle of viral transmission, technology is a clear winner in these situations, which was once seen through skeptical lenses by industry experts and governments. These factors have been the influencing factors for the medical drone market growth during the forecast region.
For instance, in October 2019, the UPS Flight Forward Inc. received U.S. government approval with the Federal Aviation Administration's first full Part 135 Standard certification to exercise drone airline operations. As a result, the company launched its first drone delivery flight at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, NC, by using a quadcopter Matternet M2.
Surging Experimentation, Testing, and Certification Approval for Drone BVLOS Flight Operations to Aid Growth
The pandemic has also accelerated the adoption and initiation of accommodative regulations, approvals, experimentations, and test flights by governments and OEMs for medical applications. Therefore, many countries jumped into experimentation and testing of UAVs efficiency. As a result, in 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has registered around 900,000 drones which may be deployed for varying applicability of drones. India, too in May 2021, initiated the broadened testing of drones for vaccine and medicinal delivery to the BVLOS destinations.
In addition, the group of technology and drone industries' companies, government agencies, and healthcare experts are testing the last-mile drone-based delivery testing, which is first required to respect VLOS (visual line of sight) limitations. In May 2021, the Australian Government planned to invest USD 28 million to initiate the Emerging Aviation Technology Partnerships Program under National Emerging Aviation Technologies (NEAT) Policy Statement, which regulates the country's drone sector. Such factors are anticipated to fuel the market growth.
Lack of Unified Air Traffic Management and Skilled Pilots May Hamper Market Growth
UAVs are widely adopted for various medical applications such as emergency blood services, human organ logistics, emergency medical supply, and others. However, the OEMs and the end-users have witnessed varying limitations through legal limitations, operational capabilities, and approvals, commercial and industrial applications. Few countries such as Japan, the US, the UK, Netherlands, Ghana, Rwanda, India, and Nigeria have approved the BVLOS flight operations and necessary licenses. However, lack of unified air traffic management for safe flight operationalization in controlled airspace for all airborne platforms. Minimizing the operational challenges and drone-related accidents faced by BVLOS flights are a major problem. In addition, the rising number of remotely operated drones for medical delivery applications has been challenged by the lack of skilled pilots for BVLOS flight operations by the end-users are the major market constraints.
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Rotary Wing Segment Dominated the Market in 2020
Based on type, the medical drone market is segmented into fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and hybrid.
The rotary-wing segment withheld a dominant share in 2020 owing to the high demand of rotary-wing for medical supplies, public area disinfection, and monitoring and surveillance applications amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Other attributes, such as owing to efficient vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities and confined area operability, influence the rotary-wing segment's market growth. For instance, in May 2021, Aeras, the U.S.-based Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 137 certification drone operator, was hired for aerial disinfectant spraying of big sports and entertainment sites. In October 2020, the Atlanta Falcons, the U.S.-based National Football League Team, awarded the contract to Lucid Drone Technologies for aerial spraying of FDA-approved disinfectant over Mercedes Benz Stadium. Also, the Carolina Panthers and Washington Football Team have been utilizing unmanned aerial system disinfection solutions.
The hybrid segment is anticipated to grow as the fastest-growing segment due to rising demand for long endurance and range, heavy and large payload carrying capabilities, a large area of coverage for medical applications. In April 2021, Wingcopter, the German manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for medical and humanitarian applications, has launched its next-generation drone, Wingcopter 198, an all-electric VTOL fixed-wing UAV (Hybrid UAV) and a game-changer in drone-based logistics for varying medical, commercial, and industrial applications.
The fixed-wing segment is the second-fastest-growing segment owing to long-range and endurance, large coverage area, and small-to-large payload capabilities for blood samples, vaccination drive, and other on-demand medical applications. For Instance, Zipline, a California-based manufacturer and service provider, has been operational in Sub-Saharan Africa, the U.S., and other countries since its inception. It has a large drone coverage area and last-mile logistical capability owing to its fixed-wing drone fleet.
The Fully Autonomous Segment is Anticipated to Grow amid High Demand and Adoption Rate
The medical drone market is classified into remotely operated, semi-autonomous, and fully autonomous by the technology.
The remotely operated segment is anticipated to be the largest segment owing to the high adoption rate of remotely operated systems for various medical applications. For instance, In June 2021, Dunzo, a hyperlocal delivery service provider, has announced that it's working with a consortium of industry experts for a remotely operated drone-based medicinal and healthcare logistics in Telangana State in partnership with the Government of Telangana. This development is a product of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) approval to the Government of Telangana for utilization of drone-based COVID-19 vaccines and medicines logistics.
The fully autonomous segment is evaluated as the fastest-growing segment owing to the high adoption rate and demand for autonomous Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) unmanned logistics for various medical applications across the globe. For instance, Zipline has the world's largest autonomous drone-based medical delivery network and has been evolving owing to multiple partnerships with governmental agencies and the Government itself.
The semi-autonomous segment is estimated to grow at a significant rate during the forecast period. In March 2020, Digital Aerolus, an autonomous drone technology manufacturer, launched the Aertos semi-autonomous drones to disinfect the indoor confined areas and outdoor areas with UVGI disinfection technology for medical applications.
The Less than 2 KG Segment is the Fastest-growing Segment
The market is trifurcated into less than 2 KG, 2 – 5 KG, and greater than 5 KG based on package size.
The less than 2 KG segment is the dominant segment in 2020 and during the forecast period. This growth is due to initial experimental and operational approvals to the less than 2 KG category for unmanned logistics by governments worldwide. For instance, the Matternet M2 can carry the payload up to 4.4 lbs (2 KG) to 12.5 miles for on-demand medical supplies delivery between hospital facilities.
The 2 – 5 KG segment is the fastest-growing segment in the market owing to the technological advancement into the drone payload capabilities by the manufacturers worldwide for next-generation logistical applications, including the medical supplies logistics. For instance, Zipline and other medical supplies logistics OEMs and service providers have utilized the 2-5 KG categories.
The greater than 5 KG segment is anticipated to grow with a significant CAGR during the forecast period owing to high demand among various industries, including the healthcare industry, for heavier and multiple payload capability unmanned systems. For instance, the German OEMs, Wingcopter has developed Wingcopter 198 for heavy and multiple drone-based logistical applications for varying industries and commercial service operators.
The Government Segment Anticipated to Dominate during the Forecast Period
By service type, the market is segmented into hospital-based, independent, and government.
The government segment is the dominant segment in the market due to the initiatives taken by governments worldwide to periodically fortify its healthcare system to increase the efficiency of the medical supply chain. Therefore, the segment is estimated to grow during the forecast period. For instance, the Government of Rwanda has been utilizing medical drone-based logistics since 2016 due to the lack of transportation infrastructure and difficult terrain to cover the hard-to-reach areas.
The hospital-based segment is the fastest-growing segment in the market during the forecast period owing to the rising demand among the hospital facilities for UAV-based deliveries for various medical applications such as human organ logistics, medical supplies logistics, and other medical applications. For instance, in May 2021, Mission Go, a market leader in the UAV logistics solutions; Mercy Hospital, an Allina Healthcare system hospital; and LifeSource, the upper Midwest US-based organ procurement organization, delivered the first experimental flight of a human pancreas via medical drones.
The independent segment is anticipated to grow with a significant CAGR during the forecast period. This growth is attributed to the growing demand and the advent of companies in the medical drone delivery market. For instance, in August 2020, Amazon has announced to induct and roll out its medical UAVs deliveries in the U.K market for efficient and on-demand delivery of medical supplies and medicinal products to the customers through its Amazon Prime Air VTOL fixed-wing drones.
The Emergency Blood Logistics Segment to Remain Dominant
The market is classified into emergency blood logistics, medicinal drugs logistics, medical equipment logistics, surgical equipment logistics, vaccine logistics, emergency organ logistics, and emergency ambulatory support by logistical application.
Emergency blood logistics has been the dominant segment in the market and is anticipated to remain dominant during the forecast period. This segmental growth is attributed to unmanned system logistics' high demand and adoption rate to supply blood samples and pathological blood products. For instance, the Sub-Saharan African nations such as Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, and Malawi has been utilizing the unmanned logistical network for on-demand delivery of the blood samples across their respective sovereign region and hard-to-reach places.
The vaccine logistics segment is the fastest-growing segment in the market. It grows during the forecast period due to the high demand for vaccines worldwide for various diseases, epidemics, virus outbreaks, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, in February 2021, owing to a new partnership between Zipline, UPS Foundation, and the Government of Ghana had launched COVAX, the COVID-19 vaccination program, to distribute up to 2.5 million doses to improve the speed and access of these vaccines.
Other segments such as medicinal drugs logistics, medical equipment logistics, surgical equipment logistics, emergency organ logistics, and emergency ambulatory support are anticipated to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period. For instance, various organizations and telemedicine delivery service providers have taken the initiative to utilize alternative logistics such as unmanned logistics for various medical or surgical equipment applications. For instance, in September 2020, MissionGo and Nevada Donor Network had delivered a human kidney in Las Vegas.
COVID-19 Pandemic to Boost the Utilization of Blood Samples During the Forecast Period
Based on the end-user, the market is classified into emergency medical services, blood bank, virological laboratory, pathological laboratory, hospitals, field hospitals, telemedicine service providers, government institutions, ambulatory services, humanitarian & healthcare NGOs.
The blood bank segment is anticipated to remain dominant in the market during the forecast period. The growth is attributed to the periodic need for blood by the various end-users, such as hospitals, field hospitals, and others. In addition, it is also growing due to the high demand for plasma and blood for COVID-19 infected patients worldwide. For instance, the Government of Ghana has undertaken the utilization of the autonomous drone-based network to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and supply the essential vaccine, blood, and medical supplies to the hospitals and field hospital in hard-to-reach places.
The hospital segment is anticipated to be the fastest-growing segment among other segments in the market during the forecast period. This growth is attributed to the high demand and adoption rate of the UAV logistics for various medical applications utilized in hospital facilities worldwide. For instance, in May 2021, ANWB Medical Air Assistance has been undertaking the test flights, one of which has been implemented between Zwolle and Meppel over the 16 kilometers stretch for medical drone applications between two hospitals or a hospital network across the country in the Netherlands.
Other segments such as emergency medical services, virological laboratory, pathological laboratory, telemedicine service provider, field hospitals, government institutions, ambulatory services, and humanitarian and healthcare NGOs are anticipated to grow during the forecast period. The growth is attributed to rising demand among these segments, time-saving, efficient on-demand delivery, social distancing norms, the spread of the pandemic. For instance, in March 2021, Skyfarer, Altitude Angel, and a consortium have gradually launched an initiative to enhance the UK pathology network gradually by fast patient response, emergency medical services, and blood logistics for emergency blood transfusion. It is also focusing on COVID-19 supplies.
North America Medical Drone Market Size, 2020 (USD Million)
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The medical drone market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and the rest of the world.
North America is the largest and dominant region globally, with a market size of USD 79.88 million in 2020. The regional growth of the market is propelled by a high adoption rate of drones for medical applications and the presence of key manufacturers in the US such as Zipline, UPS Flight Forward, Amazon Prime Air, Flirtey, and others. According to the study of the FAA, 872,694 drones will be registered in 2021.
Europe is the second-largest region, and this market growth is owing to the accommodative regulations, high investment rate in unmanned technology by OEMs and governments alike, a barrage of government initiatives for a robust healthcare system amid the ongoing pandemic.
Asia Pacific is the third-largest region, the market growth in the region is attributed to the high adoption rate and investment by OEMs and governments and the presence of the OEMs in the region such as DJI, and market expansion by global market players such as Zipline.
The Middle East is anticipated to be the fastest-growing region during the forecast period. The regional market growth results from high investment by regional governments such as Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria, and others for various medical applications. High investment spree in the Middle Eastern countries such as the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The presence of OEMs in Israel, such as Flytrex, has influenced the market growth. The rest of the world is evaluated to have a moderate growth rate. This growth is anticipated to be influenced by the rising drone adoption rate and market expansion by market players.
Zipline is one of the Leading Key Market Players Worldwide
Zipline Inc. is a California-based medical drone delivery company that is operational in the delivery of medical supplies. It is primarily an adopted partnership strategy with governments from the Sub-Saharan African Nations. They emphasize the partnership with governments across the globe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation. The governments have made the necessary changes in the government regulations relevant to drone operations and experimentation. These factors are one of the factors for the market growth of Zipline in the healthcare sector.
The market competition has lowered the standards for new entrants, thereby challenging the major players based on their services' quality and price. Thus, major players such as Zipline, Matternet, Volocopter, Volansi, and Flirtey are focused on strategic partnerships, mergers & acquisitions, and geographic reach, specifically worldwide, to endure their global market position and high demand for medical drones amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
An Infographic Representation of Medical Drone Market
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The global report provides a detailed medical drone market analysis. It focuses on key aspects, such as leading companies, service types, and leading applications of medical drones. Besides this, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. Moreover, the report encompasses various key factors contributing to the market's growth over recent years.
Value (USD Million)
By Package Size
By Service Type
By Logistical Application
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 194.7 million in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 1,410.9 million by 2028.
In 2020, the North American market value stood at USD 79.88 million.
Registering a CAGR of 27.70%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2021-2028).
The blood bank segment is expected to lead this market during the forecast period.
The high demand for drones for healthcare applications, monitoring and surveillance, and other factors amid the COVID-19 pandemic is set to propel market growth.
Key companies are highly focused on investing in medical drones. They are involved in expanding their portfolios and establishing strong partnerships with leading hospitals, private players, and governments.
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