It seems impossible to stay on top of all the major changes that are going on in the drone industry, so here’s a list of some trends to keep a close eye on this year:
For Platform Manufacturers:
- Lots of consolidation is happening–mergers, acquisitions, drop-outs and market focus changes.
- Trends towards strong specialization–agriculture, delivery systems and safety and security are some of the bigger industries that are seeing the development of specialization.
- Autonomous Air Taxis (AAT) (i.e. flying cars) will be in the forefront–lots of funding in this space.
- Drone racing events and selfie drones will continue to define the industry.
- A great need for artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms is out there–with these types of algorithms, drones can automate processes even more, and in turn, provide more value.
- Providing one piece of the puzzle might not be enough–more strategic software partnerships will form to provide end-to-end solutions.
- Drone logistics services are on the rise.
- Drone show providers are becoming all the buzz–whether drones are being used to carry out a half-time show or indoor entertainment, this area is on the rise.
- Standard configurations of drones are not cutting it–there is a great need for more industry-specific configurations.
- Drones as a Service (DaaS) have matured and more big businesses will start utilizing these services when in-house operations don’t make sense.
- Big funding and large international partnerships are forming in this area.
- One of the biggest concerns is limitations for physical and non-physical systems that include jammer restrictions (federal network agency) and problems for health in public spaces (e.g. pacemakers).
In Components and Systems:
- More businesses (and government entities) need launch and recovery because of high-priced equipment and flights in populated areas that require rigorous safety measures.
- Hybrid systems (i.e. battery/fuel cell, gas/battery) will be essential for longer flights and endurance.
- Encrypted data links will also be essential–standard drone-to-ground communication is quite vulnerable otherwise.
The big pictures? Machine learning for drones (in navigation and analytics) is driving numerous developments; the degree of automation and adoption of drone technology will further increase throughout the year. All of these developments and trends are indicative of how and why 2018 will be a big (and exciting) year for drones.