Drone market to hit 3 million units in 2017 with $6 billion in revenue, says Gartner

Of those three million drone units in 2017 about 174,000 of them will be for commercial uses. Commercial drones also represent the bulk of revenue in 2017.

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Gartner is projecting three million drones will be shipped in 2017 -- good for more than $6 billion in revenue.

Of those three million drone units in 2017 about 174,000 of them will be for commercial uses, according to Gartner. In terms of revenue, commercial drones will account for $3.69 billion, with personal use representing $2.36 billion.

By 2020, Gartner projects the drone market will be worth more than $11.2 billion.

The commercial market for drones is smaller, but units have higher average selling prices. Meanwhile, drone regulations are solidifying and most industries have use cases for them. Gartner said commercial drones can carry higher payloads, fly longer, have redundant systems, and are typically specialized for a task.

What remains to be seen is whether advances for personal drones -- used largely for entertainment and photography today -- can bring costs down on commercial devices. Personal drones typically don't fly more than 5,000 meters and are priced below $5,000.

Gartner expects personal drone makers to work their way into the commercial markets with features for 3D mapping and modeling.

Also: Windows 10, Azure, drones: This system aims to ensure aircraft landings stay safe | Smart city drone deployments need security, IT best practices | MIT lets you design your own drones | CNET: Best personal drones of 2017 | TechRepublic: Hover Camera injects AI into mini drone to automatically follow you

Among the key points worth noting from Gartner:

  • Agriculture will be among the slower growing industries for drone usage and represent about 7 percent of the commercial market through 2020.
  • The inspection market -- including oil, gas, energy, infrastructure, and transportation -- will be 30 percent of the commercial market through 2020.
  • Delivery drones will be hampered by regulation and logistics and be 1 percent of the commercial market through 2020.

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