An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is basically an aircraft devoid of a human pilot on the board. It is also popularly known as drone or unmanned aircraft system. It is said that the flight of UAVs can be functioned with the assistance of numerous degrees of autonomy. They can be operated by keeping it under remote control by a human operator, or the operation can be completely or intermittently separated by onboard computers.
It has been observed that their key use derived largely from the military applications. However, their employment is gradually growing in various applications entailing commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and applications including policing and surveillance, product deliveries, aerial photography, agriculture as well as drone racing. It is said that these devices are a vital component of modern warfare.
The most striking aspect attached with these devices is that at the time of wars, they help in avoiding humiliation and dishonor if in case the particular aircraft is shot down or the pilot is detained. When compared with the manned aircrafts, UAVs are usually given the first preference for missions that are considered as too tedious, filthy or risky for the human beings. They have the potential to take hold of the missiles and smack the target with more preciseness.
They are extensively employed for carrying out close watch, rescue operations, collection of data regarding unfriendly and violent places, locating the position of inmates and for supplying provisions like food and water in the disaster affected areas. All these aspects are collectively contributing in boosting the overall demand of unmanned aerial vehicles. At times, the regulations laid down by the government authorities become a major restraint in the overall growth of the market.
Correspondingly, the ethical concerns regarding the deployment of UAVs offer is also turning a major challenge for the market. Market size on the basis of size spans micro, miniature, and heavy UAVs. Market size on the basis of application spans military, civil & commercial, and homeland security. As far as the applications are concerned, military applications recorded a considerable share in the market. And due to the raised defense expenditure, the employment of these devices has also got a major push. Market size on the basis of class spans small UAV, tactical UAV, strategic UAV, and special purpose UAV.
Market size on the basis of energy source spans lithium ion battery, hybrid cell, solar cell, hydrogen cell, and fuel cell. Market size on the basis of subsystem spans GCS, and data link software. Market size on the basis of material type spans CFRP, GFRP, BFRP, and AFRP. Market size on the basis of the geographical regions spans North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.
As far as the geography is concerned, North America is currently leading the market and is accounting for the largest share in the applications of military and defense sector. And it is estimated that the present dominance will go on continuing till the next couple of years because its enhanced employment in municipal welfare. Other than that, Europe is also gradually taking up the share in the market owing to military applications and modern farming that is being applied in the major parts of the particular region.
Asia Pacific has also displayed a considerable growth as far as the expansion of product application in commercial areas is concerned. China and South Korea are counted among the emerging economies as they have started implementing surveillance system with the assistance of UAVs. It is likely that South America and Africa will witness rather a sluggish growth, the reason being reduced concentration of application industries. The prominent companies operating in the global unmanned aerial vehicle market include Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Textron, AeroVironment, PLC, DJI, Elbit Systems, General Atomics, Israel Aerospace Industries, Boeing, and BAE Systems.