Last October, the Department of Defense launched a history-making test of its latest micro-drones—a swarm of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets, demonstrating such advanced swarm behaviors as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing. Documented on the CBS News program 60 Minutes, the China Lake, California, event was one of the most significant tests of autonomous systems under development by the Department of Defense, the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), partnering with Naval Air Systems Command.
“This is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will keep us a step ahead of our adversaries. This demonstration will advance our development of autonomous systems,” said the creator of the SCO, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
Drones are definitely the way of the future for warfighting. But drones aren’t just for the military. According to dronelife.com, more people are discovering the amazing things drones can do—like facilitate incredible aerial photography, improve business logistics and deliver all kinds of fun. The popular web site gathered eight drone industry stats that show just how much the general public is embracing the drone movement, too.
1 $127 billion—That’s how much the drone industry could be worth by 2020, according to recent reports by consulting firm PWC. It also reported that some of the greatest increases could be in business, farming and special effects applications.
2 7 million drones—According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s newest estimates, we can expect about 7 million drones to ship to the U.S. by 2020. The group expects sales of commercial drones to rise as high as 2.7 million (from 600,000) and sales of hobbyist drones to rise from 1.9 million to 4.3 million by 2020.
3 The U.S. controls 35% of the global drone market—And, according to KPCB’s 2014 estimates, that makes America the largest drone market in the world. Europe controls 30%, China has 15% and everyone else controls the remaining 20%.
4 $8 billion—This is the astonishing worth of DJI Innovations after funding in May. The company has said that its valuation could exceed $10 billion following the next round of funding.
5 $40 less than a GoPro—Thanks to intense competition and less expensive components, drone prices are falling fast. In regards to our stat, tech company Xiaomi just launched a 4K drone that costs $40 less than GoPro’s 4K-capable Hero 4 camera.
6 325,000—That’s how many drone registrations the FAA received between December 2015 and the beginning of February of this year. As a side note, the FAA also reported that 325,000 is not even a third of the number of drones sold during the holidays last year.
7 130 successful deliveries—Earlier this year, shipping company DHL conducted a pilot program, making 130 deliveries between two villages in the Alps. The company says their drones fly as fast as 45 miles per hour carrying as much as 4.5 pounds. In the U.S., Amazon is busy working toward their goal of total delivery automation, as well.
8 $1.9 billion—According to AngelList, that’s how much venture capital has gone to drone industry start-ups so far. The three most promising of these start-ups (in order of valuation) are Skycatch (a commercial logistics company), DroneDeploy (a company developing drone mapping and analytics) and Matternet (a maker of smart drones). AngelList estimates the average valuation of all drone start-ups at $5.3 million.
These stats are indeed promising, but keep in mind that they’re only predictions. One of the most critical factors to the industry’s success is the nature of government regulations. Should regulations become too tight, the market could suffer. And drone enthusiasts’ compliance with existing regulations has a significant influence on the tightness (or looseness) of these rules. So just be sure to keep that in mind when you’re out having fun. And if you still need to register your drone on the sUAS Registration Service, do it today!