Collaborative Efforts and Innovation Mark Drone Relief Operations Following Noto Peninsula Earthquake

Uniting Forces: Innovating Relief Efforts through Drone Technology in Post-Earthquake Japan This article published in collaboration with JUIDA, the Japan UAS Industrial Development Association. In the wake of the devastating Noto Peninsula Earthquake that struck on January 1, 2024, Japan’s response has been characterized by innovative drone technology and collaborative relief efforts spearheaded by various […]

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The LiDAR Pros: Comprehensive LiDAR Drone Services from the Experts of Sundance Media Group

LiDAR Pros Expands Services and Drone Reselling in Southwest Region The integration of LiDAR technology into commercial drone operations continues to revolutionize industries such as architecture, surveying, construction, and public safety. The precision and efficiency offered by LiDAR have prompted significant advancements in data collection, enabling companies to streamline processes and enhance project outcomes. The […]

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Does the North American drone market have room to grow in 2024?

“Not only is the North American drone market already one of the leading regions for drone technology, but it also has incredible potential to develop even more.”

That’s the thesis of a fresh report from Drone Industry Insights, a German-based analytics firm. DII conducts a massive, annual survey of drone pilots, company leaders and other folks involved in the industry. This year’s survey was gathered based on data from 1,113 online survey respondents spanning 85 countries. And according to insights gleaned in its latest Drone Mark Report 2023, the North American drone market is set to grow.

Drone Industry Insights honed in on the three North American countries — Canada, Mexico and the U.S. — to understand the trajectory. And here are some key points of note:

  • As far as continents go, North America is the second-largest drone market (behind Asia)
  • The North American drone market is forecast to surpass $12.2 billion by 2030, according to another DII report
  • 59% of North American drone companies have 10 employees or less (considered small companies)
  • 19% of North American drone companies have between 11 and 50 employees (considered mid-size companies)

Why things are looking up for the North American drone industry in 2024

North American drone market optimism 2024
Image courtesy of Drone Industry Insights

So why does it seem so likely that the North American drone market is on an upswing? Just look to DII’s “drone industry optimism” analysis. Whereas the industry average optimism score is just 6.6, the average among respondents specifically from North American is a far-higher 7.2.

What’s more, is that when DII gathered an optimism score from North American drone companies in 2022, it was just 6.3. This year’s 7.2 score represents nearly an entire point of increase.

There are a few key reasons for the rising optimism, but among the biggest is recent advancements in regulatory frameworks. Much of that has to do with the  Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) more frequently doling out approvals for companies to conduct beyond line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights. That includes an October 2023 approval to SwissDrones. The approval allowed its aerial service provider, Phoenix Air Unmanned (PAU), to fly drones not just in specific areas, but across the entire United States. A month prior, two drone delivery companies, Zipline and UPS Flight Forward, got FAA approval to conduct package deliveries.

Additionally, the FAA has begun doling out what are called Production Certificates for drones. Those are basically a stamp of approval from the FAA that the manufacturers who hold such a certificate have demonstrated quality management and manufacturing capabilities needed to produce aircraft in that design. Matternet received the U.S.’s first-ever FAA Production Certificate in late 2022.

“These regulatory developments are crucial in fostering a conducive environment for drone technology growth and innovation,” according to DII’s report.

What the North American drone market looks like today

North American drone market size 2024

The North American drone market is pretty diverse in terms of offerings. There are companies that build drones or related components (like parachutes), but business ventures extend far beyond that. Here are the types of drone companies you can expect to find in North America, broken down by their share relative to other types of companies:

  • Drone service providers (40%)
  • Software companies (12%)
  • Training and education providers (11%)
  • Internal operations (9%)
  • Hardware companies (6%)
  • Makers of components and systems (5%)
  • Engineering and integration (4%)
  • Other (13%)

Most (40%) of the North American drone companies are drone service providers. That’s a pretty broad term, but in short it means that these companies will fly drones for you. That could entail everything from California-based Zipline, that conducts drone deliveries for clients including WalmartIntermountain Healthcare and even Sweetgreen. Then it encompasses the smaller startups, like Aerotas, which uses drones to process data specific to land surveyors.

While DII broke out drone hardware companies (6%), makers of components and systems (5%) and engineering and integration (4%) as separate categories, it might be fair to group them all together. With that, you could infer that 15% of the drone industry in North America is focused on some sort of hardware. Most of today’s drone hardware companies made in America focus on enterprise and military applications. That includes makers like Skydio (based in California) and Teal (based in Utah).

Then there are the software companies that are robust, perhaps unsurprising given software hubs like Silicon Valley. There, major software companies include DroneDeploy, which makes mapping software. Other types of drone software includes drone simulators, such as the Zephyr Drone Simulator from Virginia-based Little Arms Studios.

But perhaps most standout is that 11% of North American drone companies are training and education providers. North America has a robust amount of training. Just look to all the organizations that offer training for GI Bill students, or the myriad Part 107 online test prep courses.

What challenges are ahead for the North American drone market?

North American drone market priorities challenges 2024

Right now, the big priority and challenge for American drone companies center around marketing and sales. Sure, people are generally more open to drones than they were 10 years ago, when top concerns centered around drones spying on them or crashing on their heads. Yet even still, many people aren’t totally pro-drone.

Luckily, ongoing examples of ‘drones for good’, particularly in peoples’ everyday lives, are changing that. For example, more drone light shows have exposed the public to their beauty and power.

Survey respondents also cited ‘Staff Development’ as a top priority. That fits nicely with the fact that 11% of drone companies in North America are devoted to training and education.

And perhaps unsurprisingly is that, despite regulatory improvements inciting newfound optimism, it’s still also posing as the No. 1 challenge. Among those regulatory challenges include the rollout of Remote ID. That rollout was so fraught that the FAA extended the Remote ID enforcement date to March 2024. Still today, drone pilots criticize the fact that they’ve largely been forced to purchase expensive Remote ID modules or are often limited to flying in certain areas (FRIAs) that are few and far between.

But in general, it seems as though it’s now a good time to be a drone company in the U.S. There’s high demand for drones made in America. There’s also high demand for faster deliveries via drone, drones to clean their rooftop solar panels, drones to photograph their home as it goes on the market for sale, or perhaps even more drone light shows. Given that, it’s a good time to be a North American drone company.

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EOS Partners with Shielders Advanced Industries in UAE

EOS Defence Systems has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Shielders Advanced Industries, a specialist in metal processing, profiling, and fabrication based in the United Arab Emirates . This strategic agreement was formalised at the Ajban Defense Industry and Technology Exhibition in the UAE on 21 February 2024, signifying a major milestone in the defence manufacturing […]

High Eye Wins Netherlands Ministry of Defence Tender

High Eye has emerged victorious in an international open tender issued by the Ministry of Defence Netherlands, marking a significant milestone in the company’s journey of innovation and growth. This prestigious tender victory signifies not only a tremendous achievement by High Eye but also a testament to the quality and capability of the Airboxer. As […]

General Atomics Gets $31M US Navy MQ-9A Detect and Avoid System Contract

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, California, is awarded a $30,885,042 cost-plus-fixed-fee order (N0001924F5565) against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N0001922G0006). This order provides for the development, integration, test, and certification of the MQ-9A Detect and Avoid System for the Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Poway, California (85%); and Patuxent River, Maryland […]

Drone Industry Funding Sees Significant Drop in 2023: The Latest from Drone Industry Insights

Drone Industry Insights has published their latest report detailing the state of Drone Industry Investments.  The research is an in-depth analysis: but one stark fact stands out in the summary.  In the realm of drone industry funding, the year 2023 witnessed a notable downturn, marking a departure from the meteoric rise seen in previous years. […]

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