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The global unmanned helicopter market size was USD 5,092.3 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 11,382.8 million by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 12.52% during the forecast period.
The market is expected to propel due to the growing number of infrastructure projects in the pipeline. The unmanned helicopter technology has overcome conventional methods of inspection, which generally requires the hiring of a manned aircraft or sending people to inspect the construction sites. Additionally, the manufacturers are setting new cost-effective methods for carrying out various inspection operations. Apart from infrastructure, these helicopters are widely used to inspect railroads and agricultural land.
The introduction of advanced technology in the energy sector is expected to create new opportunities in the unmanned products category. Additionally, it will aid in maintaining and supporting infrastructure projects across the transportation and warehousing industry. Recently, the U.S. spent around USD 6 million on the UAV technology that is anticipated to boost sales in the market. The product is developed by various institutes for specific scientific research applications that include prototype development of modern technology, environmental monitoring, and educational platforms.
COVID-19 Pandemic to Drive Demand for Unmanned Helicopter Systems
According to the World Bank, the baseline forecast for global economic growth is projected to contract global GDP by 5.2% in 2020. The global market will witness a deep recession despite excellent government efforts with fiscal policy & monetary policy support. The economic loss is likely to increase the poverty levels among the population due to job loss, derailment of careers, and social unrest across the globe. It is estimated that post-COVID-19 pandemic, there will be drastic defense budget cuts from the developed nations such as the U.S., the U.K, Russia, China, and India. These factors will impact the global trade fall by 13% to 32% due to lack of confidence in the market, risk in new investment, and fewer business opportunities in various countries. Several governments are attempting to balance policy objectives in many terms that include monetary policies, fiscal policies, and healthcare packages.
The increasing adoption of unmanned systems in the pandemic situation across the globe to support regular medical supply, health care kits and PPE kits will fuel the market demand in the forthcoming years. The industry is witnessing positive development in several countries owing to the autonomous air traveling benefits and contact-free services. Several major companies are investing time and money in new product development and innovation to gain a competitive advantage in the market. In May 2020, a drone startup, Anduril, raised series c funding worth USD 200 million to develop artificial intelligence (AI) tools for military applications. The company surpassed its USD 1.9 billion worth of total valuation.
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Development of Technologically Advanced Pocket Size Unmanned Helicopter to Drive Market Growth
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have become an important part of military operations, especially, for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support. Several countries are developing UAVs that provide access to remote locations with real-time information on the battlefield. By adopting the most advanced technology, PD-100 Black Hornet, the smallest unmanned helicopter or tiny unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was developed by Flir Systems. It is so small that it can be carried in a soldier’s pocket. PD-100 Black Hornet is designed and constructed of rugged plastic molded shell with an aerodynamic shape to withstand stormy winds. It has a length of 100mm and a rotor of 120mm, along with 160 gm of weight that includes a surveillance camera.
Black Hornet can fly at a speed of 10m/s with a maximum of 25 minutes. It is installed with a steerable electro-optic (EO) camera that provides still video displayed on a hand-held device. The camera further offers a zoom option for the clear picture quality using ground station control. The other feature includes an autopilot system installed on the board with a two-mode option that is either operated manually or programmed for the predefined path using a GPS. The operator can control via data link within the line-of-sight range around 1000m.
Strong Demand from Commercial Applications to Propel Market Growth
Helicopters are well-suited for the quasi-static positioning of advanced sensors in 3D space with high precision. Even in gusty wind conditions, unmanned rotorcraft enable precise flight control and operations owing to their maneuverability and ability to fly at any low speed. There is a growing interest in deploying unmanned technology for forest monitoring, photogrammetric survey, and infrastructure inspection. These applications are based on the remote sensing operations controlled through ground-based remote operators. In April 2020, UAVOS Inc. completed a flight test with the UVH-170 cargo delivery unmanned helicopter, while performing an automated delivery that was carried out between a vendor and a destination and back through pre-selected routes.
Increasing Adoption of Unmanned Technologies in the Military to Improve Battlefield Management
The changing warfare technique and battlefield management, and the need to modernize conventional military equipment are propelling the demand for unmanned technology. Modernization is necessary to keep pace with technological progress during the battlefield and the growing demand for up-gradation is expected to drive the growth of the market. Several countries are focusing on upgrading their defense forces. For instance, In 2019, the U.S. Army spent around USD 718.69 million to modernize its armed forces and enhance its combat capabilities.
The militaries across the globe are planning to procure surveillance equipment, air defense systems, unmanned rotorcraft, warships, submarines, missiles, and others that will favor the market growth. In May 2020, Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy signed a contract for MQ-8C Fire Scout flight testing with multi-mode surveillance radar Leonardo AN/ZPY-8 that is equipped in the helicopter. The AN/ZPY-8 provides the Fire Scout UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) with capabilities such as an active electronically scanned array that allows accurate detection of several targets.
High Cost Associated with Devices and Stringent Regulations to Limit Adoption
While increasing market opportunities, technology firms cited multiple possible inhibitors that affect growth during the forecast period. These include a lack of clarity around government regulations, safety, security, privacy, and usage restrictions. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles standards & guidelines implemented by the government authorities are stringent. These guidelines are mandatory for the operational, management, and delivery functions of an unmanned aerial services firm. Strict guidelines implemented by the government for commercial use such as risk mitigation & safety, and unmanned rotorcraft service & flight operations.
Design Constraints and Component Failure to Hamper Market Growth
Several military applications require high efficiency, high integration, and compatibility to operate under different conditions, along with a wide frequency band. This leads to the increasing complexity of the design. There is a rise in demand for lightweight and low-cost unmanned rotorcraft owing to the easy handling, low cost, and long flight benefits projected to drive the market growth.
Techniques and fundamental theories limit the unmanned rotorcraft size and performance. The constraints in the design and development of the military miniature lightweight unmanned rotorcraft are expected to hamper the growth of the market. Although the product can be operated in harsher environments, any type of equipment failure on the battlefield may cause shattering damage.
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Simple Payload Carrying Segment to Grow at Faster Pace
Based on the product, the market includes small (0 -20lbs) and medium (21-55lbs).
The small product segment is projected to grow at the highest CAGR of 12.86% by 2027. The simple payload of up to 21 lbs in the small rotorcraft can carry a camera, avionics, sensors, and battery for the rotor. The unmanned rotorcraft is widely used for air transport applications across the globe.
Unmanned helicopters and other rotary vehicles are widely used in aerial photography, aerial imaging, and aerial monitoring applications that include medium-sized drones equipped with high-tech systems. The medium size unmanned rotorcraft is capable of carrying a heavy payload up to 55lbs, which is suitable for air transport, food joints delivery, medicine supplies, and emergency aid in various countries. The growing demand for small payload unmanned rotorcraft in several countries due to its low-cost benefits will fuel the market growth in the forthcoming years.
Industrial Application to Register a Higher CAGR
In terms of application, the market is segmented into a military, government agency, and industrial.
The government agency is expected to hold a dominant share in the market during the forecast period. The dominance is attributable to the growing infrastructural development for metro, rail, and airport projects across several countries globally.
The industrial application is expected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period due to the rapid industrialization and urbanization initiatives in developed and emerging countries. This will further boost the demand for unmanned rotorcraft for aerial imaging applications across the globe.
LIDAR software is widely used to detect and measure the distance of an object or surface through the optical source for aerial image mapping. Additionally, geo-referencing per scan point is provided by the GPS and GIS system. Aerial monitoring is extensively used in every industry for monitoring of accident scene or reconstruction projects. Aerial vehicles are broadly adopted in mining & quarries, gas & oil pipelines, digital elevation models, digital surface model generation, railroads, and other infrastructure. These factors are anticipated to propel the market growth during the forecast period.
North America Unmanned Helicopter Market Size, 2019 (USD Million)
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North America stood at USD 1,737.7 million in 2019 and is expected to dominate the global unmanned helicopter market. This dominance is attributable to the increasing popularity of unmanned rotorcraft and other drones for numerous applications such as aerial photography, surveying, field mapping, and wildlife monitoring across the region.
The emerging concept of air transport and logistics solutions of companies such as UPS, Uber, Zipline, and DHL are focusing on developing advanced air transport systems. The new products are specially designed to supply food, medicines, and cargo in the U.S. and Canada that is projected to boost demand in the forthcoming years. Furthermore, the presence of manufacturers and suppliers such as Flir, Northrop, and AeroVironment in the U.S and Canada is expected to bode well for the market growth in the region.
The market in Europe is expected to grow at a moderate CAGR owing to the growing demand for aerial vehicles for security forces, naval forces, and border patrolling objectives.
The market in the Asia Pacific is expected to exhibit a healthy growth owing to the increasing military budget of various countries will boost the market growth in the forthcoming years. In addition to this, the market players are making heavy investments in product development, which in turn, will fuel demand for unmanned rotorcraft products.
South America and the Middle East & Africa accounted for a comparatively lower unmanned helicopter market share owing to the presence of a highly under-penetrated market.
Strong Product Portfolio of Northrop Grumman, AeroVironment Inc., and Flir Systems to Lead the Market.
The market is fragmented in nature owing to the strong product portfolio of several companies and their focus on enhancing the wide distribution network of major developed and emerging countries. Currently, Northrop Grumman, AeroVironment Inc., and Flir Systems are leading the market, accounting for a dominant share in 2019. However, the lack of strong barriers to entry is likely to lead to an increasing number of domestic players entering the global market.
Other key players such as UMS Skeldar, Schiebel Corporation, STEADICOPTER, LAFLAMME AERO INC., and Quantum have entered the market competition with advanced and modern unmanned rotorcraft products. The introduction of an innovative small unmanned aerial system for the military application and huge investment in the development of modern technologies for ISR missions are some of the major strategies adopted by market players operating in the market.
An Infographic Representation of Unmanned Helicopter Market
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The unmanned helicopter market research report provides a detailed industry analysis and focuses on key aspects such as leading companies, product types, and applications of the product. Besides this, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the growth of the advanced market over recent years.
Value (USD Million)
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 5,092.3 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 11,382.8 million by 2027.
In 2019, the North America market value stood at USD 1,737.7 million.
Growing at a CAGR of 12.52%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2020-2027).
The medium (21-55 lbs)segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.
The increasing demand for low-cost aerial monitoring devices and the development of unmanned aerial vehicles by market players are major factors driving the growth of the market.
AeroVironment Inc., Northrop Grumman, and Flir Systems are major players of the global market.
North America dominated the market share in 2019.
The launch of advanced technologies such as Black Hornet UAS, Vapor 35, and COMPOTOR S-100 by the market players are expected to drive the adoption of the product.
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