In an industry filled with as much excitement and promise as the drone space, it can be hard to separate they hype from the reality. Every year, Skylogic Research’s annual report acts as a reality check for the hype merchants and chronic optimists with its accurate bottom-up assessment of the state of the industry.

The 2018 Drone Market Sector Report by Skylogic Research LLC. indicates that the UAS space is maturing, but still finding its ground as fleet sizes remain small and most enterprise adoption only just getting started. Three quarters of businesses and public agencies report drone programs as young as two years old. That being said, professional use of drones is growing. Skylogic finds that almost three-quarters of all drones weighing over 250 grams are purchased for professional purposes”Either governmental or business. This is up from last year. Smaller businesses are also seeing some growth in revenue with a three-point gain from 2017 to 2018, but small drone-based service providers face some clear obstacles to six-figure incomes.

After the roll out of Part 107 by FAA, the volume of drone-based service providers (DSPs) exploded, but as the report shows, expectations for many have been misaligned with actual market demand for services. Aerial photography and video service providers face a crowded market space while the Surveying/Mapping/GIS DSPs still have not outstripped the demand their services. “For example, 38% of service providers offer aerial photography and/or video, but only 23% of businesses use or purchase that service. For surveying / mapping / GIS, it’s 17% who offer the service, and 20% who use or purchase it,” the report states.

The internet is littered with DSP sites that claim to be servicing multiple unrelated industries like energy inspection and mining, where the crossover between them the ends at the drone. Whether enterprises would utilize outside services seemed like an open question less than a year ago, but the report points out that the majority of businesses and agencies are choosing to utilize in-house employees. 72% of all survey respondents who qualified to answer stated they have gone in-house, with verticals like agriculture shifting to taking over control of their drone operations from the service providers. The industries most likely to outsource were public asset and infrastructure management and oil & gas facilities inspection.

That’s only a sampling of the data you can find in the comprehensive 107-page report where you can find additional insight and analysis on:

  • Who’s buying what types of drones from which makers at what prices and for what uses.
  • How large the drone-based service providers are, and how they position themselves to their target industries.
  • Who the business users of drone-based projects are, and which industries have traction.
  • How much service providers, business users, and public agencies are using flight management, mission planning, and image processing software for drone-based projects.

Click here to download the full report.

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