DII’s drone barometer survey is out

The results of Drone Industry Insights’ 2023 Drone Barometer Survey are out.

And here is the long and short of it – a few more people are finding employment in a drone industry in which expectations are becoming more sober as the industry matures by the year, and understanding grows on the challenges that still bog down progress – of which the most enduring challenge has always been legislation.

This year, the research company received responses about various questions on the state of the commercial drone industry in the world today from 1,113 stakeholders; which is a record in DII’s books.

In the previous year, only 891 respondents filled out the submissions, which represents a significant 25 percent leap this year.

“This increased participation points to a growing industry interest in sharing insights and experiences, as well as in fostering a sense of collaboration and knowledge exchange,” DII says.

“Delving into the data, the surge in participation isn’t confined by geographical boundaries or clusters of participants. The survey drew contributions from drone companies in 85 countries, surpassing the previous year’s mark of 81 countries.

In terms of the highest rate of participation, the top three countries were Japan, the United States, and China, which accounted for 228, 157, and 81 responses, respectively.

“Particularly noteworthy is the collective weight of the top ten countries: this year they represented only 65 percent of the total responses (a decrease from 71 percent in 2022), which suggests that the global drone industry survey is indeed reaching all corners of the world beyond the traditional market strongholds.”

You can read the findings of the report below.

Drone Industry Data: Unveiling Key Trends and Insights

The drone industry, characterised by its dynamic landscape, is a tapestry of drone companies of various sizes.

It remains true that most drone companies around the world have under 50 employees. Yet an intriguing facet of this year’s survey is the representation of over 45 companies that boast more than 5,000 employees. This shows that the industry is certainly not “only DJI” and that there are dozens of large companies operating daily within the global drone industry.

All in all, this data underscores the industry’s versatility in fostering entities of diverse sizes. While smaller entities have historically contributed to the industry’s narrative, this year’s survey has succeeded in capturing the perspectives of larger corporations.

Mapping the Skies: Spotlight on Dominant Drone Applications

The global drone industry survey brings to light a compelling narrative regarding the role of Mapping & Surveying within drone application methods.

This year, this industry application claims a commanding 37 percent share among Business-Internal-Service (BIS) companies and a 33 percent share among Drone Service Providers (DSPs). The emergence of Mapping & Surveying as a cornerstone application method reflects the industry’s shift toward data-driven solutions.

Meanwhile, Photography & Filming maintains its significance, accounting for 31 percent of BIS activities and 27 percent of DSP engagements.

This underscores the diverse range of applications fuelling the drone industry’s growth.

Finally, the global drone industry survey data reveals a discernible contrast in application preferences between DSPs and BIS companies when it comes to the Inspection method. DSPs demonstrate a distinct preference, allocating a substantial 25 percent share to this application, whereas BIS companies allocate 16 percent.

This divergence might suggest that carrying out drone inspections requires enough time, resources, and/or expertise to be sold/bought as a service rather than carried out internally, though this is of course only one way to interpret the data.

Balancing Expectations and Reality

The interplay between expectations and experienced reality has been one of the more interesting metrics over the lifespan of the global drone industry survey.

The expectations score reached its pinnacle at 7.2 in 2021 but has since levelled off at 6.6 in 2023. In contrast, the reality score experienced a journey of fluctuation from 6.0 in 2020 to 5.6 in 2021 and rebounding to 5.9 in 2022 before stabilising at that same level in 2023.

In a nutshell, it could be said that expectations and reality converged from 2018 until 2020, at which point the pandemic led to extreme optimism for a recovery in 2021, which sadly did not materialise and led to disappointment in 2022.

In 2023, the optimism is back but at a much healthier and less extreme level. These scores provide insight into the industry’s cautious optimism and its adeptness in navigating the ebb and flow of external factors such as the global pandemic and inflation over the past years.

Navigating Industry Challenges: Regulatory Considerations

The drone industry, like any dynamic sector, grapples with its share of challenges. Regulatory obstacles, which consistently feature as a recurring concern within the survey responses, underscore the industry’s reliance on well-defined regulatory frameworks.

As the industry continues to evolve, these frameworks serve as guiding principles, shaping the trajectory and growth of the drone ecosystem. Therefore, it is no surprise that once again the top market-driving factor is considered to be rule-making authorities.

In short: regulation represents both the biggest challenge and the biggest growth factor.

More Insights from the Global Drone Industry Survey

These are some of the key insights found within the latest edition of the free annual white paper. The report itself features more insights such as a list of all the top 10 participating countries and a map of all countries that participated. Additionally, you will find more details on the top reasons to adopt drones, a breakdown of the optimism levels within sub-segments, and a ranking of the top challenges that professionals foresee for the industry as a whole.


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