Compared with consumer drones that mainly focus on life and entertainment scenarios, the industrial drone market with richer and larger usage scenarios has quietly risen.
According to the forecast of the third-party agency Frost & Sullivan, the compound annual growth rate of global consumer drones will decline in 2020-2024, from 24.09% in 2015-2019 to 20.00%; while industrial drones will remain in the same period High growth rate, from 50.62% in 2015-2019 to 56.43%.
The agency pointed out that with the continuous expansion of application scenarios, global industrial drones have achieved rapid development. It is expected that in 2020, the industrial drone market will exceed consumer drones for the first time and become the world's main market for civilian drones.
In this context, demand for scenarios including agricultural plant protection and emergency material transportation has gradually erupted. Behind this is the acceleration of the research and development of large-load drones, and the future urban air traffic scenarios are also highly anticipated.
During the recent World UAV Conference, in the post-epidemic era, the promotion of non-contact commerce, coupled with the rigid demand for emergency material transportation, the vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing UAV market with large load capacity is gradually being developed come out.
Demand for large loads is rising
It is understood that due to the advantages of unmanned driving, large load and long endurance, environmental protection, and no need to build large airports and taxiing runways, eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) technology is considered to be the most important in the aviation industry since the birth of helicopters. One of the technological changes.
Nowadays, the market has put forward higher requirements for UAVs in hover time, cruising speed, range, and take-off and landing sites. However, multi-rotor, helicopter and fixed-wing UAVs cannot meet this multi-directional demand at the same time.
Specifically, multi-rotor UAVs are restricted by their endurance and short range; unmanned helicopters are more expensive to build and have higher flight control difficulties; fixed-wing UAVs have higher requirements for take-off and landing sites, and generally require runways. . Vertical take-off and landing UAVs have attracted market attention due to their excellent hovering ability and long cruising speed and range.
The agency pointed out that through improved design, combined with the advantages of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft and fixed-wing aircraft, the use of multi-rotor and fixed-wing composite vertical take-off and landing fixed wing configuration can improve the aerodynamic efficiency, range and safety of the UAV.
There are many occasions in the world where tasks need to be completed in the air, such as the transportation of emergency supplies. However, in the past, it was limited by the fact that traditional aircraft required various facilities to match, and helicopters had problems such as higher costs. These were not well realized. "Now there is a large-load fixed-wing UAV with a vertical take-off and landing configuration, which can bring about change."
The characteristics of the vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing UAV include that it does not require an airport and runway, so the flight range is relatively free; compared to helicopters, the maintenance and operation costs are lower, and there is no complicated structure to make this type of product safe and reliable. Both have been greatly improved.
"It seems that there is no such demand before, because the technical level has not been reached." The applications currently explored are mainly used in scenarios where there is a need for urgent material transportation. At these times, the requirements for urgency and timeliness are higher than the cost. It is considered that it will be a good tool to replace helicopters, and it is not the current positioning of logistics companies in the development of transport drones.
"This type of UAV has higher stability, reliability and repeatability in these scenarios than helicopters, and the cost is relatively lower, so there will be relatively better practicality." He continued.
Vision towards air traffic
For the vast majority of manufacturers that develop large-load UAVs, going to manned will be one of the long-term development goals in the future. Overseas, this type of manufacturer has already received a lot of attention from capital.
The vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing market has grown 10 times in five years, from 1.231 billion yuan in 2019 to 12.426 billion yuan in 2024. In the same period, the scale of the multi-rotor market only increased by 3.6 times, from RMB 6.406 billion in 2019 to RMB 23.210 billion in 2024, and the market share decreased by 17.65%.
Among them, the new application scenarios that are being opened, urban air traffic, will accelerate towards commercialization with the help of capital.
In the process of air traffic that has not yet been realized, the transportation of major materials will be the core application scenario, and it also assumes the role of precipitating subsequent capabilities. "There is a great demand for loading scenarios, so this is the core of the company's business at this stage. In the loading process, through continuous iteration of the product, the platform capabilities are more mature and guaranteed, and the transition to Manned phase."
After the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the prevalence of non-contact commerce has caused the demand for the use of industrial drones to continue to overlap. Xie Jia told reporters that the company's potential orders have increased during this period. At present, there is a high degree of concern in the market for larger payloads, especially UAV products with a take-off weight of more than 1T.
"The larger the load, the more advantages this configuration will have. Of course, the technology will need to be continuously improved, but the biggest difficulty is not the technology itself, but the degree of openness to the airspace."
"The biggest advantage of our country is the integration of vertical industries, that is, the core technical capabilities including motors and electronic control are all from domestic, and many foreign manufacturers adopt outsourcing methods, which undoubtedly raise a lot of procurement costs." He continued Weighed.
However, it should be pointed out that air traffic is a vision that can be expected, but its positioning is different from the daily travel in our lives.
Air travel is completely different from consumer drones. It will not become the main mode of travel, but it will be a good supplement to ground transportation. For example, from a city’s airport to the city center, it takes several hours to use public transportation, but it may only take more than ten minutes to fly in the air.
"This is a very large market. As the follow-up technology matures, people who are not sensitive to funds but are anxious to travel will be the main demand for them." He said.