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Small Drone Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Type (Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, and Hybrid Wing), By End-use (Military & Defense, Consumer, and Commercial & Civil), By Maximum Take-off Weight (Less than 5 Kg, 5-25 Kg, and Above 25-150 Kg), and Regional Forecast, 2021-2028

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI102227



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The small drone market size was USD 9.31 billion in 2020. The market is projected to grow from USD 11.46 billion in 2021 to USD 46.68 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 22.86% in the 2021-2028 period. The global COVID-19 impact has been unprecedented and staggering, with witnessing a positive demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market will exhibit a stellar growth of 20.7% in 2020. The rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.


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Small drones are advanced systems that pack a lot of functionality into a tiny form factor and are expected to become a major military tool. These miniature pilotless aircraft are also gaining strong popularity due to their numerous commercial applications. Small UAVs fitted with high-resolution cameras, GPS, and sensors are majorly used for aerial filming and photography. The extreme adoption of miniature drones across the industries owing to its improved work efficiency, excellent productivity, and high accuracy in capturing images is projected to fuel the market growth during the forecast period. Moreover, the Integration of artificial intelligence (A.I.) in drone technology is predicted to augment future market growth by allowing the collection and management of a huge amount of real-time information precisely.

Small unmanned aerial vehicles are available in numerous sizes, shapes, and varieties possessing superior capabilities and different applications in oil & gas industries, disaster management, and surveillance & monitoring for the defense sector and other security organizations. Small drones are the modern-day force multiplier that can enhance the capabilities of security forces to contain terror and to counter the emerging challenges in defense and homeland security. Moreover, these UAVs or drones can identify security and terrorism-related challenges and pinpoint vulnerable areas that are prone to various risks. These factors are expected to drive the market growth globally in the forthcoming years.

Increased Adoption of Small Drones for Health-Related Services amid COVID-19 Pandemic To Fuel Market Growth

Ever since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, leaders in the drone industry have discovered more unprecedented drone applications. Now, more than ever, many industries across the globe are using drones to perform critical tasks more efficiently. The COVID-19 pandemic was an alarming situation for the whole world; the government agencies made extraordinary efforts to enhance healthcare facilities, hospital infrastructure, and primary treatment facilities across the globe. Using drones to deliver healthcare and other health-related services is a relatively new application of this technology in the world. For health service providers, drones represent a feasible means to increase their efficiency and ability to provide services to individuals, especially those in difficult-to-reach locations.

  • In July 2021, drone delivery startup Zipline announced new partnerships with Walmart in the U.S. and Toyota in Japan and worked with Pfizer to design and test a delivery solution for COVID vaccines. The company aims to deliver two million vaccine doses.

  • In June 2021, Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo, in an interview, said that the company had delivered at least 2.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in Ghana. The company planned to deliver over 2.4 million more, with a particular focus on remote and roadless areas, by the end of the year.

  • In June 2021, E-commerce major Flipkart partnered with the Telangana government to lead a consortium tasked with the development and execution of the drone deliveries of medical supplies to remote areas under the ‘Medicines from the Sky’ project. The pilot, which is expected to be conducted for over six days, will be tested out for delivering thousands of COVID-19 vaccines in Hyderabad while keeping in mind all the safety and efficiency parameters.


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Adoption of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) In Small Drones to Propel Market Growth

Drone-based LIDAR is technological advancement in the drone industry. LIDAR technology, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, uses sensors that emit laser beams that shoot down to the ground and bounce back. The distance of the laser and back to the sensor is then measured and recorded. This technology is currently engaged in both military and commercial sectors and is used for creating super detailed 3D maps and models of landscapes, buildings, and human-made objects, which then opens the gate for a whole new range of creative possibilities when it comes to planning and aerial surveying missions.

  • In August 2021, RedTail a leader in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror-based LiDAR technology, introduced the RTL-450 LiDAR sensor for drones in the market. The RTL-450 – which is designed and assembled in the U.S. incorporates patented LiDAR sensor technology that will generate accurate data for the most demanding of aerial surveying missions. The high-resolution, three-dimensional point clouds created by the RTL-450 provide operators an unsurpassed ability to conduct advanced analytics of geographic and manmade features on the earth’s surface.


Growing Adoption of Drones for Air Logistics Services to Surge Demand

The commercial potential of the small drone has been gaining extensive popularity across the industries for the last few years. The autonomy in drone technologies is transforming operation methods and new commercial applications. Drones are widely used in the media, entertainment, advertisement, precision agriculture, real estate, surveying, construction, remote sensing, environment monitoring, emergency management & disaster response, and forest monitoring applications.

In the year 2020, the commercial drone industry, which includes drones used for everything from mapping vineyards to monitoring construction, was doing considerably better amid the pandemic by growing 23%, up from 2018’s figure of 18%. The increasing demand for lightweight and faster delivery and transportation for logistics is projected to fuel the market growth during the forecast period. For Instance,

  • In June 2021, Spicexpress, the cargo division of airline firm SpiceJet announced that they would start a commercial drone delivery pilot project by the end of the year. Air cargo firm Spicexpress along with e-commerce logistics platform Delhivery have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to build drone delivery capability in India. The cargo division of airline firm Spicexpress is one of the key consortiums shortlisted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to conduct trials beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones in the country.

  • In August 2020, Amazon received approval to operate its drone fleet for prime air delivery from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This approval will enable amazon to deliver packages safely and efficiently. The company aims to deliver emergency packages within 30 minutes or on the same day.

Rising Military & Defense Expenditure to Propel Market Growth

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), global military & defense expenditure surpassed USD 1,981 billion in 2020. The maximum share of global military expenditure came from key countries such as China, India, Russia, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, in which China, the U.S. and India were the top military & defense technology purchasers across the globe. Moreover, the rising tension on the international borders in several countries due to border disputes will drive small drones demand worldwide. Thus, the increasing demand for the latest and modern military technology to enhance various countries' defense systems is likely to fuel the market growth during the forecast period.

  • In June 2021, The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has signed contracts worth USD 1.71 billion with ONC Tech, which will provide the grenade-launching drones to the army, and Preneu, which will furnish the small modular drones to the Navy and air force. The drones will employ various new technologies and contribute greatly to expanding the spectrum of military drone power and revitalizing the drone industry. According to DAPA, the grenade-launching drone will be a remotely controlled attack drone capable of carrying up to six 40-millimeter grenade launchers and targeting targets up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away


High Cost Associated with Devices and Components to Limit Market Adoption

The unmanned aerial vehicle is a sophisticated technology that consists of different parts and components such as GPS, GIS, camera, sensors, payload, motors, power supply, and airframe. Small drones find numerous applications in the military & defense for intelligence and commercial purposes. Unmanned aerial vehicles are automated technologies that depend on various components, sensors, and software that are costly to manufacture. Therefore, the high prices of small drones are expected to hamper the future growth of the market during the forecast period.

There are several restrictions imposed on the drones' usage for logistics and transportation in the U.S. and other countries due to the lack of uniform air traffic management for UAVs. These are the major concerns likely to hamper the demand for this market during the forecast period.

Stringent government regulations to hinder market growth

The drone industry is still facing a backlash in the commercial sector. Government agencies are making strict rules to regulate drone-related activities in a manner such that they do not pose any risk to safety or National security. Countries from all over the world have different rules and regulations for drone flying and drone pilot authorization. For Instance,

  • In July 2021, Within weeks of the drone attack at the Jammu Air Force base, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) India has released for public consultation the Draft Drone Rules, 2021 that seek to replace the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021. According to the draft, drone rules 2021, operating drones without unique identification numbers will not be allowed, unless exempted. Drone operators will have to generate a unique identification number of a drone by providing requisite details on the digital sky platform.


By Type Analysis

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Hybrid Wing Segment to Grow at Faster Pace

Based on type, the market includes fixed-wing, hybrid wing, and rotary wing.

The rotary-wing segment held a dominant share of the market in 2020. The dominance is due to excellent aerial operations, easy vertical takeoff and landing, and high aerial photography efficiency.

The fixed-wing drones segment is expected to experience high growth in the market due to the long-range flying capabilities of the drones for several applications across the globe. These drones require extra space for takeoff operation, along with the operator enabling force to throw the drones in the air for launching. 

The hybrid wing segment is projected to register a significant CAGR by 2028 due to increased search & rescue operations, firefighting, wildlife surveys, and disaster management. Several drone companies are adopting various aerodynamics structures for increasing accuracy, power supply, and autonomy.

Manufacturing companies are focused on enhancing the multi-rotor models due to easy takeoff and landing benefits across the globe that is likely to drive the rotary wing segment in the forthcoming years.

By Maximum Take-off Weight Analysis

5-25 Kg Segment Dominated the Market in 2020

The market is segmented into less than 5 Kg, 5-25 Kg, and above 25-150 Kg based on Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW).

The 5-25 Kg segment, also known as mini or Nano drones, dominated the market in 2020 and is expected to showcase exponential growth during the forecast period. Technological advancements in the software-based platforms for mobile applications and drone-based ICT tools are enhancing the accuracy, reliability, and efficiency of drones.

  • In June 2020, FLIR announced last month that they had won an additional USD 20.6 million contract for their Black Hornet 3 Personal Reconnaissance Systems (PRS). The Black Hornets are designed to be used as part of the Army’s Soldier Borne Sensor (SBS) program to support small unit-level surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

The less than 5 Kg segment includes small drones that have been widely used in developed and developing countries for sanitizing and disinfecting purposes during the pandemic that is likely to boost the segment growth during the forecast period. Agriculture is the best example of the small UAVs used for irrigation, pesticide spraying, and seeding application in precision farming. Additionally, the small drones can carry fire control aids, disaster relief & emergency food supplies, and medical supplies to various countries. These benefits are fueling demand for drones across the world.

By End-use Analysis

Rise in Demand for Small Drones in Military & Defense Sector to Propel Market Growth

In terms of end-user, the market is segmented into military & defense, consumer, and commercial & civil. The military & defense segment is expected to have a dominant share in the market during the forecast period. The dominance is due to increased demand for military operations such as intelligence and surveillance operations in several countries. Very few manufacturers in the drone industry can ignore the military market. The growing demand for small drones to carry out homeland surveillance, border patrolling & security, border management, and logistics & transportation will fuel market growth in the forthcoming years.

The consumer segment is expected to showcase strong growth due to the growing demand for drones amongst the young generation for hobby purposes in several countries during the forecast.

The commercial & civil segments are expected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period due to the increase in the number of commercial applications such as field mapping, crop monitoring, logistics & transportation, surveying, and remote sensing in developed and emerging countries.


North America Small Drone Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)

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This market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the rest of the world.

The market size in North America stood at USD 4.50 billion in 2020. North America dominates the market owing to the presence of companies, sellers, and distributors in the U.S and Canada, such as Textron and 3D robotics. Moreover, the growth of the market in the region is attributed to the rising usage of drones for military, logistic and, surveillance applications and is anticipated to lead this market in terms of revenue.

Europe is expected to grow at a significant CAGR owing to the rising awareness regarding aerial photography, precision agriculture, and disaster relief. Furthermore, the increasing demand for these products for transportation purposes is expected to bode well for the market growth in the region.

The market in Asia Pacific is expected to exhibit considerable growth due to the increasing demand for precision farming, crop monitoring, and aerial photography. In addition to this, the market in Asia-Pacific is expected to grow significantly owing to the rising drone manufacturers in the region. DJI located in China is one of the prominent drone manufacturers in the world. Moreover, the improving economy of emerging countries such as India & Japan is expected to support market growth.

Latin America accounted for a comparatively lower small drone market share due to large sellers, suppliers, and import & export companies in the region. The Middle East is expected to witness substantial growth in the market owing to the increasing awareness for the usage of drones in oil & gas industries for several risky operations.


Strong Portfolio of DJI, AeroVironment, and Parrot Drones to Lead Global Market Growth

The market is fragmented due to its strong product portfolio and drone services in developed and emerging countries. Northrop Grumman, DJI, and Parrot Drones are the companies that will account for a dominant share in the market in 2020. However, a lack of strong entry barriers is projected to lead to an increasing number of domestic players entering the global market. This is projected to lead to a highly fragmented market by 2028.

Other key players operating in the market include Textron, 3D Robotics, Delair, Elbit System Ltd, BAE Systems, Kespry, Autel robotics, and Yuneec. The innovative drones such as Mavic Air, Vapor, and ANAFI are the key portfolio for the company’s selling worldwide. These technological giants are investing huge amounts in developing industry-specific solutions for drones, including analytics software and platforms for the customers. Collaboration, acquisition, and partnership are major strategies adopted by market players operating in the market.


  • DJI (China)

  • 3D Robotics (U.S.)

  • Parrot Drones (France)

  • AeroVironment Inc. (U.S.)

  • Kespry (U.S.)

  • Delair (France)

  • Textron (U.S.)

  • Autel Robotics (U.S.)

  • Yuneec (China)

  • Northrop Grumman (U.S.)

  • BAE Systems (U.K.)

  • Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.(Israel)

  • Elbit Systems Ltd.(Israel)

  • Zipline (U.S.)


  • In January 2021, BAE systems and UAVTEK partnered to deliver a tiny ‘Bug’ drone to the U.K. Army. Weighing in at just 196g, the battery-powered Bug is equipped with four rotors and capable of 40 minutes flight time. Its antennas can transmit images from the onboard high-res camera up to 2km.

  • In January 2021, FAA approved the first fully automated commercial drone flights. The decision by the Federal Aviation Administration limits the operation of automated drones to rural areas and altitudes below 400 feet but is a potentially significant step in expanding commercial applications of drones for farmers, utilities, mining companies and other customers.

  • In August 2021, Amazon laid off more than 100 employees in the Prime Air division, Wired reported. The division's goal was to make drone deliveries a reality for the tech giant, and Amazon has been testing its Prime Air drones in the U.K. since 2016.

  • In June 2021, Drone delivery startup Zipline raised USD 250 million in new funding. This latest round has vaulted the company’s valuation to USD 2.75 billion and will fuel further expansion of its logistics networks in Africa and the U.S.


An Infographic Representation of Small Drones Market

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The market research report provides a detailed industry analysis and focuses on key aspects such as leading companies, product types, and leading product applications. Besides, the report offers insights into the small drone market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the advanced market's growth over recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



Value (USD billion)


By Type

  • Fixed Wing

  • Hybrid Wing

  • Rotary Wing


By Maximum Take-off Weight

  • Less Than 5 Kg

  • 5-25 Kg

  • Above 25-150 Kg

By End-use

  • Military & Defense

  • Consumer

  • Commercial & Civil

By Geography

  • North America (By Type, Maximum Take-off Weight, End-use, By Country)

    • U.S. (By Type)

    • Canada (By Type)

  • Europe (By Type, Maximum Take-off Weight, End-use, By Country)

    • U.K. (By Type)

    • Germany (By Type)

    • France (By Type)

    • Italy (By Type)

    • Spain (By Type)

    • Russia (By Type)

    • Rest of Europe (By Type)

  • Asia-Pacific (By Type, Maximum Take-off Weight, End-use, By Country)

    • Japan (By Type)

    • China (By Type

    • India (By Type)

    • Australia (By Type)

    • Southeast Asia (By Type)

    • Rest of Asia- Pacific (By Type)

  • Rest of World (By Type, Maximum Take-off Weight, End-use, By Country)

    • Latin America (By Type)

    • Middle East & Africa (By Type)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 9.31 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 46.68 billion by 2028.

Growing at a CAGR of 22.86%, the market will exhibit steady growth during the forecast period (2021-2028).

The rotary-wing segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

The increasing demand in military applications will drive market growth.

DJI, AeroVironment, and Parrot Drones are major players in the global market.

North America dominated the market share in 2020.

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