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Gartner: Three million personal and commercial drones to be shipped over 2017

According to Gartner, the global market for personal and commercial drones will increase by 34% over 2017.

Gerald Van Hoy, senior research analyst at Gartner.
Gerald Van Hoy, senior research analyst at Gartner.

Market intelligence firm Gartner recently unveiled its latest analysis of the global personal and commercial drone market.

In its report Forecast: Personal and Commercial Drones, Worldwide, 2016, the company noted that the production of drones, both for personal and commercial use, is growing rapidly. In fact, the global market revue is projected to increase by 34% over 2017, reaching more than $6bn by the close of the year. This figure is expected to reach $11.2bn by 2020.

Additionally, roughly three million drones are expected to be produced in 2017, a 39% increase over 2016.

Gerald Van Hoy, senior research analyst at Gartner, said: "The commercial and personal drone markets are increasingly overlapping, as lower-priced personal devices are being used for commercial ventures.

"Personal drone vendors are now aggressively trying to position themselves in the commercial market. Recent technological advances blur the lines, allowing personal drones to be used in many special-purpose applications such as surveillance, 3D mapping and modelling."

The growth of drones in civil markets continues to expand despite heavy regulation by various governments. The popularity of personal drones continues to rise as an extension of consumers' mobile devices for taking photographs, as well as other entertainment extensions.

In terms of the technology associated with personal drones, these units typically fly short distances, reaching 5,000 metres off the ground, though flight height is restricted to within 500 metres.

On the other hand, the market of commercial drones is much smaller and boasts a higher than average selling price. Typically, commercial drones sport higher payloads, longer flight times, as well as numerous sensors and flight controllers, in an effort to make them safer.

In terms of application, commercial drones have seen some adoption within the agriculture sector, but is limited due to not being economically feasible. Gartner expects that through 2020, the agriculture market will limit drone adoption by 7% of commercial market growth.

Industrial applications have been more successful, particularly in the oil & gas, energy, infrastructure and transportation sectors. Within this arena, Gartner expects the inspection segment to flourish, contributing 30% to the commercial drone market through 2020.

While delivery drones have stolen the spotlight over the last few years, Gartner does not believe these specialised drones will be a major factor in the coming years.

"Delivery drones will be mired in logistical issues like the time needed to return a drone to its origin point after delivery, and will amount to less than 1 percent of the commercial market by 2020," explained Van Hoy.

"We expect that delivery drones will begin finding a niche in business-to-business applications first, particularly for internal services within one company where logistics will not be such a big factor."