Ranking the drone manufacturers

The article below from the good people at Drone Industry Insights is their polite way of reminding the world commercial drone manufacturers exist in the world – outside of the ubiquitous DJI.

We praise them for that.

In a world where the top drone service providers dominate the market, it is important and necessary to have high-quality drone manufacturers.

Because, not every service provider is able or willing to build their own drones. Most service providers actually want to purchase their drones from outside drone makers, especially when some of these drone manufacturers already produce fantastic hardware.

And so, it is time for our second annual update on company ranking: the Drone Manufacturers Ranking 2023.

Top Five Companies: Civil Use Drone Manufacturers

The first category in the rankings are civil drone manufacturers. Manufacturers of civil drones either produce drones for two types: commercial purposes (drones used in industries such as energy, construction, agriculture or transport) and/or for private individuals for hobby flights.

Much like in previous years, the first place by a substantial margin goes to DJI.

The company is known globally by both drone experts and the general public. In spite of blacklisting and political controversies brought against it, it remains the number one brand for drone technology. In 2023 it has boasted about its drones being used to rescue more than 1,000 people globally since 2013.

In second place we find Skydio, which recently ended recreational manufacturing to focus more on commercial drones.

At the start of the year, Skydio raised US$230 million in Series E funding after expanding its enterprise customer base to over 1,200 organizations.

Rounding out the top three is XAG, whose agricultural drones have experienced significant growth in overseas markets, especially in Latin America and Southeast Asia​.

Similar to Skydio, fourth place Parrot has also discontinued its consumer drones program, while fifth-placed JOUAV opened a new US$50 million drone factory in China.

DJI have a vice grip on the drone manufacturer’s market

Biggest Movers and Top Countries for Civil Drone Manufacturers

There was plenty of movement in the rankings this year, with a shift from fifteen out of the top twenty civilian drone manufacturing companies.

Six of the companies saw a decrease in their rank but a bigger number of them (nine) managed to improve their overall ranking. The companies that increased their ranking the most were Autel Robotics (China, +7), Delair (France, +5), and Percepto (Israel) as well as American Robotics (USA), both with +3.

Not surprisingly, the manufacturing powerhouses of China and the United States dominate the list, featuring a total of six and four top drone manufacturing companies respectively.

European companies also have a strong presence thanks to France, Switzerland, and Germany, while the remaining companies come from Brazil, Israel, and Japan.

Top Five Companies: Dual Use Drone Manufacturers

The second category in the ranking, Dual Use Drone Manufacturers, produces drones for commercial and military markets.

It is worth stressing here that manufacturers of purely or almost entirely military drones are not included in this category.

For that very reason, a few former top players were disqualified after shifting their focus almost exclusively towards military rather than commercial use of drones. This includes the company that was ranked first in previous years (AeroVironment) as well as Anduril, and Aeronautics, among others.

This year’s new Number One dual use drone manufacturer is Insitu, which has announced several partnerships, contracts, and milestones from Brazil to Belgium and the Indian Ocean.

The company had already been closing in on AeroVironment for the top spot, and perhaps it would have still achieved it even if the former had not been disqualified.

Similarly, the second place Schiebel (previously ranked fifth) climbed a number of spots thanks in part to its stellar performance during NATO exercises.

Among other headlines by each company, third place Edge Autonomy unveiled plenty of new technology at IDEX 2023, while fourth place Quatum Systems received new funding and opened a new facility, and fifth-place IdeaForge unveiled new/upgraded products and had an IPO to enter the stock exchange in India.

Biggest Movers and Top Countries for Dual Use Drone Manufacturers

Even more drastically than in the civil sector, the dual use rankings saw ranking shifts by practically the entire list.

A grand total of nineteen out the top twenty drone manufacturing companies shifted position, with only two of them losing ranking and the remaining seventeen climbing positions.

Though it is worth mentioning that the disqualification of two of the top five companies from 2022 played a significant role in these shifts. Nevertheless, many companies still experienced an astounding rise in their rank, with the biggest climbers being Tekever (Portugal, +15), Asteria Aerospace (India, +14), and Brinc (USA, +12). 

In terms of countries represented, the majority of top dual use drone manufacturers are based in the United States (six). The remaining fourteen are relatively evenly-distributed across Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, India, Israel, Portugal, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

Conclusion: Adapting Technology to the Market

Reflecting on the Drone Manufacturers Ranking 2023, it’s clear that the drone world is not just about the tech, but also about adaptability and vision.

Leaders like DJI and Skydio have stayed at the top not just because they make great drones, but because they’ve navigated market changes with intellect and flexibility. They’ve shown that understanding customer needs and staying ahead in innovation is key. 

What’s really exciting is how this year’s rankings show a mix of companies from all over the globe, highlighting that great drones can come from anywhere. It’s not just a few big players anymore; it’s a worldwide game.

Looking forward, it’s the companies that keep pushing boundaries and adapting to the world’s needs that will likely lead the pack in the next rankings. This isn’t just about who makes the best drone; it’s about who’s best at keeping pace with a world that’s always changing.

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