Initiatives to Connect Remote Areas With the Internet Predicted to Boost the Global Solar-Powered UAV Market Through 2020, Says Technavio
According to the latest research report released by Technavio, the global solar-powered UAV market is expected to reach USD 5.15 billion in revenue by 2020.
This report titled ‘Global Solar-powered UAV Market 2016-2020‘, provides an in-depth analysis of the market in terms of revenue and emerging trends. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the global market, market shares, and growth opportunities by applications such as commercial and civil, and military and defense.
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"Internet service has become a necessity across the globe. It can also be anticipated that as human needs increase, the quality of internet service will inevitably become enhanced. However, the coverage of the best quality internet service is limited to the urban population in many parts of the world. Only one-third of the global population uses the internet," said Arushi Thakur, Technavio's senior industry manager for defense.
Connecting remote places with wires may not be a feasible solution for service providers, concerning the return on investment (ROI). This has prompted major technology providers to come up with innovative approaches to bring remote areas under the internet framework. For example, Google has been investing in a balloon-powered internet project, Project Loon, since 2011. This project aims at providing internet access in rural areas using solar-powered HALE balloons to establish an aerial wireless network to reach a remote population of nearly 5 billion across the world.
Some of the other driving forces behind the growth of the global solar-powered UAV market are as follows:
- Improved endurance with enhanced flight range
- Enhanced surveillance and security activities
- Increasing commercial and civil applications of UAVs
Improved endurance with enhanced flight range
Selecting solar technology as the primary source of power is a major driver propelling vendors to develop and offer solar-powered UAVs. A fixed wing UAV can accommodate substantially higher units of solar cells on its large horizontal wing surfaces, which deliver almost quadruple units of powers compared to a battery-powered UAV.
In July 2015, Autonomous Systems Lab announced the successful 81-hours flight of its solar-powered UAV, AtlantikSolar. The UAV's 81-hours flight set a new record of the highest endurance in its class, surpassing the previous record of 48-hours by the SoLong UAV developed by a US-based electric vehicle manufacturer, AC Propulsion, in 2005.
Enhanced surveillance and security activities
The growth of the global UAV market is predominantly attributed to the rising adoption of UAVs in military organizations. The military forces use these remotely piloted aircraft in missions where the deployment of manned flight is considered too risky or challenging.
Such missions include both tactical and theater-level operations. Over the years, the roles of the modern military UAVs have also expanded to other areas, including strike missions, suppression of enemy air defense, electronic attack, communication relay, surveillance, and search and rescue missions.
As per Technavio researchers, the global military UAV market reached USD 7.36 billion in 2015 and will post a CAGR of 10.16% during 2016-2020 to reach an estimated value of USD 11.94 billion. It is also anticipated that the global military organizations will be investing over USD 6 billion each year in the R&D of new UAV technologies.
Increasing commercial and civil applications of UAVs
The growing realization of the UAV deployment in military operations has also encouraged vendors to offer UAVs that can be used in numerous commercial applications. Companies primarily offer small UAVs that are used in agricultural, aerial photography, and data collection applications. For instance, in August 2014, Google introduced a prototype of a UAV that can be used for delivering parcels.
In the same month, in a research project in Queensland, Australia, the company delivered packages, including chocolate bars and cattle vaccines to farmers in the state. To conduct this test, Google used a single-wing UAV that generates thrust using four propellers to ensure maneuverability in the different stages of flight. Similarly, in December 2013, Amazon revealed its plan to deliver goods, including books, DVDs, and gadgets to the doorstep of customers using mini UAVs.
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