“Drone industry worth USD8.5 billion today, USD19.4 billion in 2026” – forecast of forecasters

Industry forecasters are continuing to offer widely different views of the scale and predicted growth rate of the commercial UAV sector, according to the latest forecast of forecasts, prepared by Unmanned Airspace. The small UAS market, based on an average of the latest forecast-of-forecasts, is predicted to grow at an average of 23.23% compound annual growth rate over the next few years. However, perhaps more importantly from a UAS traffic management (UTM) market viewpoint, the beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) market for drones will grow at a rate of 71.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) globally, according to Drone Industry Insights.

As each forecast measures slightly different aspects of the market over different timescales it is difficult to reach any firm conclusions about the value the drone industry today and in the near future. Taking a conservative view of the forecast of forecasts, however (using data from the table below), industry forecasters suggest that, on average, the 2022 market commercial drones and services is around USD8.5 billion and will rise to USD19.4 billion in 2026.

In some of the more recent forecasts Teal Group’s 2021/2022 World Civil UAS Market Profile and Forecast projects that the US will integrate unmanned systems into its national air space within the next decade, but it is difficult to specify in which year that will occur. The report forecasts that non-military UAS production will jump from USD5.6 billion a year to USD18.9 billion by 2030, a 14.1% compound annual growth rate in constant dollars. Total civil UAS purchases will reach USD121 billion over that decade.

According to Fact.MR’s June 2022 analysis, the drone industry is predicted to develop at a CAGR of 25% between 2022 and 2032, anticipated to reach USD279 billion. From 2017 to 2021, the industry experienced an impressive incline at a CAGR of 23.5%. During the COVID-19 pandemic, prospects dimmed across certain sectors, including manufacturing and hospitality, while deployment for general surveillance purposes, especially to check whether individuals adhered to lockdown norms, increased dramatically.

A March 2022 market study published by Global Industry Analysts (GIA) suggests the multirotor drone market is projected to grow at a 15.2% CAGR to reach USD32.3 Billion by the end of the analysis period. “After a thorough analysis of the business implications of the pandemic and its induced economic crisis, growth in the Fixed-Wing segment is readjusted to a revised 14.1% CAGR for the next 7-year period. This segment currently accounts for a 27.3% share of the global UAV Drones market.”

Cellular connected drones are set to become a major growth segment in the drone market. According to a 2022 report by Analysys Mason, the total revenue generated by cellular connected drones worldwide will grow to USD8 billion in 2030.  Early examples of what can be accomplished are still rare, as the technology is nascent. In late 2021, however, one case study saw Skyward and Verizon partner with French drone company Parrot to announce Parrot ANAFI Ai — the first off-the-shelf drone with Verizon network connectivity.

The model includes not only a 4G LTE connection, but many other powerful features including advanced encryption for data storage and transmission, a 48-megapixel camera capable of taking 4K ultra high definition video, and omnidirectional obstacle-avoidance technology to intelligently dodge hazards in all directions.In the future – should legal changes allow for it – this could allow users to command drones in distant locations. In this case, cellular connected drones could revolutionise the transport and supply chain industry, shifting huge quantities of goods over all kinds of terrain quickly and safely.

In May 2022 Marketsandmarkets published a 299-page research report on the drone services market that estimates the market will grow from USD13.9 billion in 2021 to USD 40.7 billion by 2026. Commercial drone services support industries such as agriculture, insurance, construction, marine, aviation, oil & gas, mining, and infrastructure in performing tasks such as search and rescue, package delivery, industrial inspection, assembling imagery, spraying fertilizers, distributing healthcare supplies to remote places, and broadcasting shows.

Forecaster Market value Years Market Growth rate


ABI Research USD92 billion by 2030 2020-2030 Small UAS CAGR 25%
Analysys Mason USD8 billion in 2030 2022-2030 Cellular connected drones
FACT MR USD278 billion in 2032 2022-2032 Total UAS market CAGR 25%
FAA 2020-2040 Commercial UAS fleet CAGR 20%
Frost & Sullivan 2019-2023 Global commercial UAS fleet CAGR 4.3%
DRONEII USD26.3 billion in 2021- USD41.4 billion in 2026 2021-2026 Global drone fleet CAGR 9.4%
Gartner 2019-2020 Global commercial UAS fleet CAGR 50%
GAI USD58.5 billion by 2026 2022-2026 Global UAV fleet CAGR13.9%
Grand View 2021-2028 Commercial drones CAGR 57.5%
Fortune Business Insights USD 22.55 billion by 2026 2020-2026 Global sUAS fleet CAGR 15.92%


International Data Corporation (IDC) 2020-2025 Global drone industry (including software) CAGR 33.3%
MarketsandMarkets Drone services market CAGR 23.8%
MarketandMarkets USD13.9 billion in 2021 to USD 40.7 billion by 2026 2021-2026 Global UAV market CAGR 16.4%
Teal USD18.9 billion by 2030 2021-2030 Global civil UAS fleet CAGR 14.1%
Technavio 2021-2025 Commercial drones CAGR 36.73%

This is an edited version of a section in the new Unmanned Airspace report The market for UAV Traffic Management Services – 2022-2026

The world’s most authoritative guide to the market for unmanned air vehicle traffic management services

(Image: Shutterstock)

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