Over the past years, unmanned aerial vehicle technology has been drastically applied for commercial purposes following the wide application of UAV, increasingly established AI technology, electronic and wireless control technological improvement and especially the invention of multi-rotor structure. It is reported that the number of total commercial UAV output reached over 4,000,000 in 2018, indicating a growing market with great potential.
DJI, as a leader in consumer drone market, takes up 70% of market share. MMC UAV on the other hand is strengthening its dominance over industrial UAV market. In recent years, MMC UAV has been utilizing industrial synergy strength to build an open and sharing UAV eco-system. Ever since 2015, its business has touched upon five continents, covering such areas as energy inspection, public safety, rescue, mapping, and environmental protection etc. MMC has five industry centers in Shenzhen, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Hubei and Jiangxi province with an all-round industry-chain layout from design, R&D, manufacturing, sales, training, and service. Other notable Chinese UAV companies include EHang, Yuneec, ChinaRS, ZeroTech.
1. UAV Development Trend
In recent years, consumer drone market is the leading prosperous section of overall UAV market thanks to large amount of capital inflow. Technically speaking, consumer drone market features few entry barriers and it is now a highly competitive market that leaves less and less profit for most companies. On the contrary, industrial UAV market is in prosperity with demands unleashed from such areas as construction, agriculture, mining and it is becoming a major market growth pole. As a report in The Economist predicted, industrial UAV market volume could surpass $1.4 billion in 2019 and reach $10 billion in 2023.
As noted by DroneDeploy 2018 UAV Industry report, it utilized UAV technology to draw maps for a total of 30 million acres of land in altogether 180 countries, doubling its global business volume. Also noted in the report is that the fastest industrial UAV target market lies in construction, agriculture, mining, surveying and mapping, as well as real estate, each enjoying over 100% growth rate.
2. UAV Evolves into Industry Chain Integration Model
UAV market research institute Droneii published a 2019 UAV Environment Map that unfolds the layout of global UAV market. Droneii has been publishing this map for years and from the changes in the map we can tell the industry changes.
As the industry develops ahead, technological requirements are becoming more demanding and industry collaboration is in shape. Strategic partnership among software companies have come into being for providing point-to-point solution. Many companies have come to realize that collaboration is the new way to conquer the market.
“To publish the industrial UAV ecosystem standard means more opportunities in the industry and greater possibility for customized payload used in different industries. This also boosts multi-lateral development of UAV industry application and even brings dramatic shift in the industry,” said Zhihui Lu, the president of MMC UAV, in 2018 Global VR industry forum.
Therefore, customized system integration service is introduced and viewed with significance. Every industry needs more and more customized solutions so more suppliers are changing their standard configuration to meet specific industry needs. In the meantime, a lot of companies will join the UAV application service market to offer specific service targeted towards different scenarios. Besides, the market for rental and maintenance service will be gradually tapped.
As of now, in the global UAV market, only a few leading companies such as DJI and MMC are capable of manufacturing industry chain products. MMC, for example, now researches, designs and manufactures core industry chain products including airframe, power system, flight control, video transmission and ground control. All the payloads are designed with standard MMC quick-release connector. MMC builds up its industry chain integration strength, adopts systematic management over cost and quality, and boasts strong product customizing capability, making it a leading company in global UAV industry chain.
3. The Rise of Chinese UAV as well as UAV manufacturers
America and Europe as the early adopters of UAV take up the most important market for either consumer drones or industrial UAV. As Asian emerging economies witness rapid development and technological advancement, the research and manufacture of UAV is in a rise in this area.
According to 2018-2024 UAV market analysis by Drone Industry Insights, global UAV market value reached $14.1 billion in 2018, with North America for $4.5 billion, Asia for $4.4 billion, and Europe for $4 billion. It can be seen that Asia takes up almost equal market value as north America. In 2024, global UAV market is expected to grow by 20.5% to $43.1 billion, with Asia reaching $18.4 billion (42.69% of global market), North America reaching $11.9 billion as the second largest market, and Europe reaching $9.7 billion.
China in terms of both need for commercial use or UAV research is now on its way to a leader in global UAV market. According to civil UAV business license summary sheet, as of June 30th,2019, there are altogether 1,353 companies that have been approved of the license and they are shaping a product chain manufacturing model. Besides, there are over 330,000 registered drones in China.
According to China UAV Association, Chinese UAV export volume reached 884,000 in 2017, a 47.2% year-on-year growth rate, with export destinations being Hongkong, North America and European Union.
In China, UAV has been intensely adopted in police, urban management, agriculture, geology, meteorology, electric power, rescue and photography, etc. In 2018, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology published a civil UAV industry report noting that China is playing a dominant role in global consumer drone market and it strives to accelerate unified management over the companies in the industry for greater strength with a hope of nurturing leading UAV manufacturers before 2020.