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UAS Market Forecast to Reach $2.3 Billion Dollars Worldwide by 2017
A new study predicts markets will grow as governments turn to affordable robotic airplanes as a less expensive way to defend borders and deter intruders.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Mar 16, 2011

Technology developed for military unmanned aerial systems is filtering down to homeland security and commercial markets. (Credit: U.S. Dept. of Defense)

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Commercial and homeland security markets for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are poised to achieve significant growth as governments move to implement more cost-efficient military systems and weapons delivery modalities, according to a new report, “Homeland Security and Commercial Unanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, Worldwide, 2011 to 2017”

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) markets at $84 million in 2010 are forecast to reach $2.3 billion dollars, worldwide by 2017. US UAS aircraft have flown one million miles over the last four years and are set to fly one million more in the next year.

Also helping to fuel growth, vendors are building out localized distribution networks that support a UAS system in a local environment, providing remote control of airplanes, a statement describing the research notes. Additionally, the industry will benefit from new services efficiencies that accrue from improved technologies. Meanwhile, new composite materials systems are achieving consistent price declines throughout the forecast period.

The report states that military UAS technology is migrating to new markets; commercial drone technology is increasingly available beyond military circles. As a result, an unmanned aircraft that can fly a predetermined route costs a few hundred dollars to build and can be operated by an iPhone.

Homeland security and commercial unmanned aircraft systems are used by countries to protect their borders and capture aerial views of commercial projects. Complex systems include ground stations and other elements in addition to the aircraft themselves. UAS are used by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other government aviation regulatory organizations.

The requirement for rapid responses to complicated contingencies and the enduring need for ever more persistent surveillance to meet a growing number of contingencies requires development of extended persistence, pre-positioning, maritime air take-off and landing and aerial refueling. Thin film batteries become significant, given these requirements.

Enhanced strike capability and payloads are evolving: UASs are expected to carry out an increasing number of strike missions on the battlefield. These missions mandate UASs be equipped with flexible payloads and advanced autonomous target recognition capabilities. More UASs with strike capabilities will be required.

Commercial UAS may include air cargo planes flown from a remote location using a video controller. This significantly reduces the cost of logistics for moving goods. The ability to reduce the cost of transport of goods, by reducing the labor component is a significant advance in commercial activity.

Unmanned aircraft systems are achieving a level of relatively early maturity. Fleets of unmanned aircraft systems have begun to evolve. The U.S. Army has achieved one million flight hours for its unmanned aircraft systems fleet. This market maturity is anticipated to extend the usefulness of the technologies into homeland security and commercial markets.

Yet another advantage of unmanned aerial systems is their excellent handling characteristics. Units are designed to perform high-speed, long-endurance, more covert, multi-mission intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and precision-strike missions over land or sea. Units feature a variety of internal weapons loads, including 2,000 lb Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), an Electrooptical/ Infrared (EO/IR) sensor, and an all-weather GA-ASI Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI), maximizing both long loiter ISR and weapons carriage capabilities.

UAS offers the war fighter persistent situational awareness and strike mission affordability. For the cost of one manned fighter aircraft, multiple swarm-configured units can cover an area of interest, providing 24/7 ISR coverage, target identification, neutralization, mission flexibility, and attrition tolerance. Some UAS have the capability to perform manned aircraft missions.

The pace of homeland security and commercial utilization is picking up as planners realize that UAS are significantly more efficient than manned aircraft in every way. Market growth of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) markets is a result of the ability to fly longer, see better, provide more useful imaging, put better sensor packages in place, achieve better maneuverability, and implement new technology. The improved control units that permit handlers to work remotely improves systems capability. Units more easily portable, more battery technology permits the ability for systems to stay in the air longer. New systems permit refueling in the air. More information: www.researchandmarkets.com/research/afdcf8/homeland_security.


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