Small drones market driven by marine border security

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The global forecast to 2030 for the small drones market is projected to grow from USD 5.8 billion in 2023 to USD 10.4 Billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 8.6% from 2023 to 2030. The market growth can be attributed to the growing demand for small patrolling drones for marine border security.

The findings are from a new report published by Marketsandmarkets, whose analysts suggest that the global expansion of the market can be attributed to the growing adoption of small drones in both civil and military applications. Small drones find widespread use in numerous commercial sectors, including photography, product and medicine delivery, 3D mapping, data transmission, as well as inspection and monitoring in confined spaces. They also play crucial roles in industries such as agriculture, real estate, and oil & gas.

Precision farming practices

In agriculture, the utilisation of small drones has led to the emergence of precision farming practices. This technology enables farmers to monitor crop health, oversee irrigation equipment, and identify various types of weeds, among other applications. Furthermore, small drones have become increasingly prevalent in the field of photography. Their user-friendly nature and affordability make them accessible tools for capturing stunning aerial photos and videos utilising advanced digital techniques.

Inspection of remote or challenging locations

Drone photography serves a range of purposes, including land-use planning, movie production, environmental studies, archaeology, power line inspection, oil & gas surveying, surveillance, commercial advertising, and artistic projects. Additionally, drones are indispensable for inspecting challenging-to-reach locations, especially at significant altitudes or within contaminated environments.

The application of drones has, according to Marketsandmarkets, revolutionised the inspection of telecommunication towers, offering cost-effective and time-efficient solutions. Drones are also instrumental in conducting aerial assessments of buildings and other critical infrastructure, such as pipelines, electrical grids, offshore facilities, and solar panels.

Civil & commercial segment projected for highest growth rate

Based on platform, the civil & commercial segment segment is anticipated to record the highest growth rate during the forecast period.

In terms of platform, for the purposes of the report, the small drone market is divided into two main categories: civil & commercial and defence & government. Within the civil & commercial segment, there are two further subdivisions: micro and small. On the other hand, the defence & government segment is categorised into three subgroups: nano, micro, and mini.

The increasing demand for small drones for use in multiple potential applications in the civil & commercial sector has led to the growth of the small drone market.  On the other hand, governments around the world are gradually leveraging drones for law enforcement and governance applications, primarily because of their compact size and swift service capabilities.

Intelligence and surveillance

Within the defence sector, drones play a vital role in providing critical battlefield intelligence. In contemporary military operations, armed forces worldwide have reduced their reliance on human scouts for information gathering and have embraced drones. The advantage of drones lies in their ability to operate with near imperceptibility to enemy forces. Drones are instrumental in monitoring enemy forces or specific areas, transmitting video feeds to designated ground stations using GPS technology. These drones are employed in Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations to collect valuable information about potential targets that might otherwise be challenging to detect.

Growing demand in public and private sectors

The use of small drones has been a longstanding practice among defence forces worldwide. However, in recent times, both public and private sector organisations have made substantial investments in the development of new and advanced UAVs tailored to their specific needs. This has led to significant progress in small drone technology, expanding their potential applications in commercial sectors. For instance, in Japan, small drones are utilised for pesticide spraying on farms, while Amazon (US) has ambitious plans to employ small drones for product delivery in the near future. Considerable research and development investments have broadened the scope of small drones, making them applicable in various fields such as mining, surveying, and 3D mapping, as well as in industries like oil & gas exploration and the film industry, among others.

Securing national borders in Asia Pacific

Based on percentage revenue growth over a three-year period, the report finds that the Asia Pacific region has been the fastest-growing technological company in recent times. The surge in military spending by nations in the Asia-Pacific area to improve their homeland security and defence capabilities is responsible for the expansion of the small drone industry in that region. Drones have also been used to secure national borders as a result of political unrest in the Asia-Pacific region. This is a critical driver behind the expansion of the small drone market in the area.

The low-cost production of UAV parts, the growing demand for doorstep delivery, and advancements in UAV technology have all contributed to the notable growth of the small drone market in Asia Pacific. The report shows that the  Asia-Pacific small drone market is expanding thanks in part to the efforts of China, India, Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Key players

Some of the major players in this field include DJI, Parrot Drone SAS, Israel Aerospace Industry Ltd., Aerovironment, Inc., and Lockheed Martin Corporation.


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