The consumer drone market is, by some metrics, shrinking. Drone delivery hasn’t taken off to the same level that some (cough Jeff Bezos cough) had promised. But the enterprise and industrial side of drones is absolutely growing.
In fact, the commercial drone market is set to grow at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7% between now and 2030. That’s according to German-based drone analytics group Drone Industry Insights (DII) via its Drone Market Report 2023, which is a 227-page drone market report that contains a 7-year forecast for the industry.
The commercial drone market encompasses a range of work, including building software and hardware. But one of the biggest money-makers in the drone industry is actually flying them. And a few drone companies stand out as especially heavy hitters for being the biggest drone service providers. Drones can provide all sorts of services. Drone delivery might come to mind first, while there are other unique use cases like serving as flying billboards or putting on drone light shows.
But while not as sexy as those use cases, among the biggest moneymakers in terms of drone services is remote sensing. These are the companies that mount cameras to drones not just to take pretty pictures, but to build 3D models, to map out landscapes, to generate point-clouds and more.
In fact, DII’s Drone Service Provider Ranking 2023 Report broke out the top five Remote Sensing Drone Service Providers. They are:
- Aerodyne (based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
- Terra Drone (based in Japan)
- Cyberhawk (based in the United Kingdom)
- Nordic Unmanned (based in Norway)
- Field Group (based in Norway)
These companies photograph, scan, map, or inspect the environments around them via drone. With that information, they’re able to generate orthophotos, point-clouds, live-views, thermal imagery or multi-/hyperspectral imagery.
And these top five companies are certainly the biggest drone service providers of 2023 for remote sensing, but they were also the top five drone service providers in 2022. What’s interesting though is that in 2023, these companies got even bigger. For example, the No. 1 drone service provider for remote sensing, Malaysia’s Aerodyne, made a strategic alliance with Italian drone company Aiviewgroup in February 2023, which was critical in opening access to the EU market.
Meanwhile, Japan’s TerraDrone this year has acquired majority shares of air navigation provider Unifly as well as acquired spraying and mapping drone company Avirtech. And the United Kingdom’s Cyberhawk is on a tear too after having hired more employees at a time when most other companies are laying them off. Cyberhawk also announced a partnership with Intelligent Energy to launch BVLOS operations using hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Besides these top five drone service providers of 2023 for remote sensing, what other companies are up and coming that you should be watching out for?
The biggest mover is India-based Garuda Aerospace. The company made a massive climb in DII’s annual list, jumping 24 spots from 2022 to break into the top 10. That’s largely due to its successful ability to capitalize on India’s ban on imported drones. In response to the news, Garuda partnered with five major international drone companies to act as their distributor within India, in turn enabling Garuda to sell products made by those companies to customers within India.
Other companies that made big leaps were India’s Aereo, Australia’s RocketDNA and American drone company SkySpecs.