Commercial drones are revolutionizing business operations.

Most people think of expensive military aircraft or even small consumer toys when they hear the word “drone.” Commercial applications actually shape the future of drones due to their ability to drive efficiency and data analysis.

This article defines drones, their market size, and how they can be used in commercial operations. The report also contains investment trends and future predictions for the industry.

What is a Drone

A flying drone, or uncrewed aircraft, is an airplane without a pilot. Drones, which are typically controlled remotely by a pilot but are currently in the final stages of development, are robots that are usually operated by a computer. Drones are robots that were created to be a cheaper and safer alternative to manned aircraft. They are still used today for military purposes, but they also serve as consumer toys and are a source of efficiency in commercial operations.

The main components of drones (battery and microcontroller) are the same. Drones are built with smartphone components. Investments in these parts over the past ten years have lowered drone prices, making them more accessible to consumers and businesses.

Drones are smartphones that can fly or move. Drones, unlike most fintech innovations like big data and payment innovation, are valuable because they combine mobile hardware with internet connectivity. Drones act as distributed sensors, making the web smarter. The drones can serve as the platform for different software and business models. In fact, everything from mapping software for drones to insurance and marketplaces where people can find drone pilots has emerged.

Drone Market Size

In the consumer, military, and commercial sectors, drones will continue to grow. Goldman Sachs, in a report from 2016, estimated that the drone market will grow to $100 billion by 2020. Although 70% of the market would be attributed to military purposes, the commercial sector is projected to grow the fastest, reaching $13 billion by 2020.

Commercial markets, not military or consumer markets, will drive the industry forward.

Drones are a viable alternative to traditional business methods in many cases. This is a result of the Federal Aviation Administration expanding permissions to commercial and non-professional drone users. Drones are more efficient and cost-effective because they require less workforce and have no safety infrastructure. Data analytics can be enhanced, allowing companies to understand better and predict operational performance. Drones may even create new opportunities and business models in some industries.

PWC estimates commercial applications have a global total addressable market worth $127 billion. Drones will be used in industries such as agriculture, journalism, insurance, and more. According to BCG, the industrial drone fleet will reach $50 billion in Europe and the US by 2050. This includes more than one million units. The majority of this value is attributed to drone services and collection data.

According to Gartner’s market research, in 2016, the commercial drone market was worth $2.8 billion, and only 11 million units were sold. Sales of commercial drones are expected to increase by 60% in 2017 and reach 170,000. Personal drones are the most popular, accounting for 94% of the market share. However, they only account for 40% of revenue. While commercial drones represent only 6% of the overall market, their estimated price of $100,000 is projected to account for 60% of the industry’s revenues.

According to PWC, the most promising sector seems to be Infrastructure, with an estimated global value of $45 Billion. Agriculture and transportation are next.

Drone hardware will be commoditized, but value will come from services.

The industry will continue to grow because drone hardware is more affordable. Will generate the majority of value through services that manage and operate drones on behalf of companies. Third parties will take over the benefits of using drones, managing drone data, and maintaining. Telecommunications companies, for example, may sell drone data communication services to guide drones and relay the data that they collect. In fact, value-added service will account for $23 billion out of the total $50 billion market.

3D Mapping

Drones are capable of 3D Mapping and surveying, as well as taking photos to create maps. Drones provide bird’ s-eye views to map areas more efficiently than surveyors could.

Drones have already shaped the operations of mining, construction, and agricultural companies. In agriculture, farmers will be able to get a better idea about the crops, which they can use to make data-driven decisions in order to increase their yield. Drones are able to feed data directly into a farmer’s tractor, allowing them to identify which corn fields need more nitrogen. This allows the farmer the opportunity to act quickly. Forrest Meyen is the COO at Raptor Maps. He says that “farmers aren’t the typical guy with a hoe and a pitchfork in the field…they are business managers who manage complex operations.” “Everything they do must increase their return on investments.”

Drones are also a valuable tool for mining, as they can create accurate contour maps and monitor changes over time. They can also share insights through the cloud. Data collection is more accurate and takes a fraction of normal time or budget. It also drives unprecedented analytics.


Drones that can deliver long distances are useful for medical applications in difficult-to-reach regions. Zipline is a Silicon Valley start-up that supplies blood and vaccines in African countries with limited Infrastructure. Flying is more efficient in these areas than driving and can replace more expensive solutions such as helicopters.

The future for last-mile delivery of consumer goods is also drones, as they would reduce the cost per delivery. According to McKinsey’s report, a 40% reduction in delivery costs can translate into a 15% increase in profit and a subsequent 15% price decrease. Autonomous delivery will be more advantageous in the future as wages are expected to rise. This is especially true for developed nations.


Amazon, the eCommerce giant, has been announcing its plans to use drones to deliver packages in under 30 minutes. This project is called Amazon Prime Air. GPS guides Amazon’s autonomous drones, which can fly up to 400 feet in height. They can also carry packages up to five pounds at speeds up to 50 MPH.

Amazon filed a Patent in June 2017 for a beehive depot that is used to dispatch drones. This patent depicts a multi-level center that accommodates both inbound and outbound drone deliveries. The facility is multi-leveled, with several landing and takeoff areas.

It’s not the only thing. Amazon’s other drone patents are also works of fiction: airborne warehouses at 45,000 feet, undersea warehouses, and charging stations for drones on telephone poles, lampposts, and buildings. Amazon’s numerous logistics patents show the company’s focus on fulfillment and delivery. Gartner’s predictions on drone delivery are more pessimistic. They estimate that delivery will only make up 1% by 2020.

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