Therising adoption of UAVs by numerous end user industries and the development of efficient solar powered propulsion system are expected to drive the solar powered drones market.
Technologicaladvancements surfacing in hydrogen fuel cell, photovoltaic cell, and hybridpropulsion system used to generate energy may help in improving the enduranceand flight range. This will assist in their penetration in the global marketowing to their increased demands in civil and commercial application utilitiesto function on an autonomous power source.
Reliableand good quality internet connectivity has become a necessity around the globe,which is restricted only to the urban areas. Initiatives taken by networkproviders to connect with remote rural regions with best quality internetservices and increase in the consumer base are expected to drive market growth.Such unmanned aerial vehicles also find major applications in mapping, disastermanagement, and surveillance.
Extensive applications forlaw enforcement activities to assist crime investigation are gainingprominence. It is used for accumulating evidence by capturing quality videosand images from over the crime scene without tampering the existing evidence.Also, it can be used for traffic management, accident inspection, andcongestion analysis.
Severe government regulations prohibiting the adoption of these aerialvehicles are anticipated to restrain solar powered drones market size. Severethreats to public security and privacy norms are challenging the growthprospects. As these technologies have only recently established a foothold inthe industry, lack of trained professionals and pilots to manage the functionsis expected to pose major challenges to the growth.
UAV technologies were restricted for application only in the defenseindustry until 2013; however, trends in the last two years have witnessedparticipation of large aviation & tech-companies accompanied with smallprivate industries in the solar powered drones market. Key participants aretargeting advanced application enhancements in the machinery, such as HDimaging, communication networks, thermal imaging and exigency service support,for increasing the solar powered drone market share. Upcoming aerial vehicleshave encapsulated photovoltaic cells on the wings to reduce the weight while maintainingthe aerodynamic features to extend the flight range of UAVs.
On the basis of applications, the global solar powered drones market canbe segmented into agriculture, energy, government & defense,telecommunication, and media & entertainment. The government and defensesegment contributed a major share till 2015 owing to the major applications forsurveying and mapping of regions. Regulatory amendments over the forecasttimeframe are anticipated to propel the growth in the commercial sectors aswell. Telecommunication, media, and commercial segments are expected to witnesssignificant growth rates over the forecast timeline.
North America solar powered drone market share was the largest in 2015owing to high adoption rates due to the extensive applications of militarydrones. Combat and surveillance operations in the critical war zones areprojected to enhance growth prospects in the region. Initiatives undertaken byaviation regulatory authorities and government, such as EASA in Europe and FAAin the U.S., will drive the growth till 2024. Asia Pacific region is expectedto be the major regional segment due to high investments by countries such asJapan, India, and China for military and commercial purposes.
Key participants holding major solar powered drone market share includeAirbus (QinetiQ), Boeing Phantom Works, Google (Titan Aerospace), and Facebook(Ascenta). Other participants include AeroVironment/NASA, Lockheed Martin(Hale-D), Bye Engineering, and Atlantik Solar. Solar powered aviation has witnesseda steep rise in R&D expenditure in the last two years prior to 2015.
Collaborations, mergers, and acquisitions are expected to remain theprimary focus for the key players to claim significant market presence over theforecast timeframe. For instance, Airbus and its subsidiary acquired Zephyrassets from QinetiQ, a British defense technology company in 2013. Thisstrategy was significant for its futuristic scope as Zephyr had a track recordof overcoming three world records in 2010.