The sixth annual Drone Market Survey is now open.
Each year, the research firm DroneAnalyst calls on companies, public agencies, services providers, and professionals who have recently purchased drones or related services to take the survey. Survey results are used to establish benchmarks and assess the health of the UAV industry.
To learn more about the survey and its findings, Commercial UAV News spoke with David Benowitz, Head of Research at DroneAnalyst. We discussed how the survey has changed over the years, major trends in the drone industry, and ways in which UAV professionals can use the results to improve their operations and add value.
Commercial UAV News: This year marks the sixth year of the survey. How has it grown and changed over the years?
David Benowitz: The survey and our resulting analysis has expanded greatly over the years to reflect new industry trends and the maturing drone space. What started as a survey primarily focused on drone purchases has now expanded to cover business and agency users, service providers, and software services and all the nuances within.
More recently, the survey has grown to cover critical issues like the impact of COVID-19 and the US-China trade war (in 2020) to assessing the use of automation (in 2021). This year the survey is continuing to adapt, with additional questions diving into the prevalence of advanced drone operations, docked drone systems, and deployment of other uncrewed systems alongside drones.
Commercial UAV News: Looking back at past results, what are some the of the most significant trends the survey has revealed?
David Benowitz: We've seen a multitude of minor and major trends uncovered in the findings. Ultimately, each year people want to know the "hot topic" around what drone brands users are purchasing. We've tracked that throughout the years from DJI's rise and dominance (as high as 74% market share) to their more recent weakening in the commercial drone space (dropping to 54% in 2021).
But that's not all. One of the key trends we've followed have been the sustainability of service providers, where we saw a large surge of new market entrants in 2018 paired with low revenues. And that's just the start, we've uncovered everything from software market consolidation and surges in drone program spending to rising drone prices and the impact of security concerns.
Commercial UAV News: Are there new areas or specific topics that the survey is focusing on this year?
David Benowitz: We'll continue to pay attention to critical areas of interest—around what drone brands are being purchased, service provider revenues, and spending—all while adding some critical topics that we see are key to tracking the industry's health moving forward. The questions we've added or modified this year are all centered around advanced drone operations/waivers, docked drone systems, and the deployment of uncrewed systems alongside sUAS.
Commercial UAV News: Why should industry professionals take part in the survey?
David Benowitz: The immediate benefits for anyone who takes the survey is they're entered for a chance to win a $400 eGift card to an ecommerce platform of their choice!
The more critical benefit is they'll get access to our key insights and have their perspective taken in account for the broader industry to see. These perspectives inform datapoints referenced by the media, legislators, and more, so we hope to capture as much of a slice of the industry as possible—warts and all.