Here’s What’s In Store for the Drone Industry in 2022

As the challenges of 2021 fade further into our memories, optimism surrounds the drone industry for 2022.

Though the global pandemic and supply chain shortages placed unprecedented challenges on nearly every sector, those in the drone industry still experienced some significant gains.

One of the greatest victories? An improved public perception of drones.

As COVID spread across the globe, many people were left struggling, unable to get the medicine and supplies they desperately needed. Drones rose to the occasion with deliveries of vaccines, medical supplies, and other support.

The improving public opinion on the use of drones should help make 2022 a year of continued growth and new opportunities for those in the UAV industry.

Some of the more promising predictions for 2022 include mergers and acquisitions, greater autonomy, more drone deliveries, and greater support from lawmakers.

By taking a look at what’s happened in the last year, you can make a few key predictions about what’s in store.

Mergers and Acquisitions in the Drone Industry

In many respects, the drone industry is still in its infancy. To know where it’s headed, sometimes you need to look to the past.

Over the last few years, a number of UAV companies came and went, while others rose to the status of industry leaders.

With this success comes investments and financial growth.

Drone up, for example, was founded by Tom Walker in late 2016, and quickly established itself within the industry.

2021 was a strong year for DroneUp, acquiring WebTeks in March and AirMap in December. Further, their growing partnership with Walmart led to major investment from the retail giant. 

In another example, August of 2021 witnessed Parrot, Verizon, and Skyward partnering together to bring the first out-of-the-box 4G LTE connected drone solution to the United States.

As companies look to stay afloat in a difficult economic environment in 2022, you should expect more and more companies to follow suit.

Software and Artificial Intelligence

As the drone industry begins to move from hardware advancements to software improvements, 2022 looks to be a stellar year for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As the world saw with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, software brings exponential growth – often exceeding hardware advances of technology.

In recent years, AI has become a focal point for the technology sector.

In fact, the global investment in AI technology more than doubled from 2020 to 2021 – from $36 billion to $77.5 billion.

As camera quality, battery duration, and hull design become more standardized, software developments – especially AI – will lead the industry in 2022.

In Tough Times, Drones Deliver

When you think of how drones benefited society the most in 2021, what comes to mind?

For many, the answer is “deliveries.”

Deliveries of vaccines, blood, and medical supplies probably had a more significant impact on the public’s perception of drones than anything else.

And, with the strain placed on retailers and consumers by the coronavirus, alternative solutions became more attractive.

Although it’s been a slow process, major retailers like Amazon and Walmart are looking to drones to solve the last mile problem.

The reason is simple: drones are well-positioned to deal with the situation. In the last year, companies like Zipline, Google, and Flytrek brought consumers everything from Girl Scout cookies to beer.

With the overall safe record of UAV flights during deliveries, look for expanded use in the new year. In fact, by some estimates, drone-based deliveries in 2022 could increase by as much as 238%.

Regulatory Support

As the public perception of drones improves, lawmakers and government bodies are re-evaluating their positions.

The holy grail of the industry, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), has spent years hindered by regulatory restrictions, rather than limitations in hardware and software capabilities.

Promising starts in 2021 may have opened the door enough to see significant acceptance of BVLOS in 2022.

For the first time, in January 2021, the FAA approved American Robotics for automated drone operations without a pilot. A month later, the North Carolina Department of Transportation flew their first BVLOS bridge inspection using a Skydio 2.

Another step forward came in April, when the CAA authorized a concept trial for routine BVLOS operations. In 2022, look for the drone industry to continue building on these first crucial steps.

The Takeaways

While 2021 was a challenging year, it remained a positive one for the drone industry, laying the foundation for a promising 2022.

As software advances and key partnerships push forward, the possibilities continue to grow.

Combined with improving public perception and relaxed regulatory restrictions, look for more and more drone applications in the coming year.

So, which drone is right for you? And, how do you get started? Do you hire out or bring your drone program in-house?

At Consortiq, we help you find a better way with drones, from consultation and program implementation to actually doing the work for you.

Ready to learn more? Just complete the form below to schedule a risk-free consultation!

Picture of David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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