2Q 2018

Capturing New Commercial Opportunities with Unmanned Vehicles

Unmanned vehicles (UVs) have been growing in both popularity and utility in the past 5 years. As the technology and capabilities of UVs advance, so too does the value of their commercial applications. UVs are becoming increasingly able to collect visual information and carry out complex tasks, and more industries are turning to these vehicles as a safer, cheaper, and more reliable alternative to incumbent solutions. However, current regulatory structures limit the ability to test and deploy innovative services. As UV pilot programs establish the safety and reliability of the technology, these regulations will likely adapt.

UVs have limitless application potential, several of which are just being examined. They have enabled information gathering once difficult or impossible. Many of these applications are less cost prohibitive than traditional solutions and are removing human operators from dangerous situations. As UVs become more mainstream both recreationally and commercially, their established track record will create more confidence in their use for other applications as well. Commercial adoption will continue at an increasing rate as the operational capabilities of UVs improve alongside automated solutions. Although the majority of use cases today are for asset inspection, aerial imaging, and agricultural operations, the improving technologies will be revolutionary for newer applications that take advantage of beyond visual line of sight and autonomous operations.

This Guidehouse Insights report analyzes the increasing prevalence and advancement of UV technology in agriculture, logistics, asset inspection, emergency management, and insurance, as well as how upcoming changes will affect the growth of the market. The study provides commentary on the current regulatory environment and how Guidehouse Insights envisions the future of these regulations and their impact on the UV market. It also identifies opportunities for stakeholders to focus on and what lies ahead to both be better adapted in the current market environment and facilitate the adoption of commercial UV operations.

Pages 15
Tables | Charts | Figures 3

  • What are some of the most prominent unmanned vehicle (UV) applications?
  • What factors are keeping UV commercial applications from being widely used?
  • What upcoming changes will enable new UV applications to come to market and existing ones to be more easily adopted?
  • How can the industry best move forward while the technology matures?
  • How is the regulatory environment shaping developments in the UV market?

  • Unmanned vehicle (UV) manufacturers
  • UV solutions developers
  • Infrastructure and asset managers
  • Last-mile logistics companies and third-party couriers
  • Time-sensitive delivery service companies
  • Investor community




Commercial UV Applications Are Growing as Tech Establishes Reliability and Services

UVs Provide Solutions across Industries

UVs Are Finding New Commercial Applications

Agricultural Applications Are Growing

Logistics Applications Catch the Most Headlines

UVs Close Delivery Gaps

UVs Are Poised to Save Lives

Asset Inspection Applications Are Most Prominent and Will Continue to Grow

Adoption Is Growing, but Regulatory Structures Can Pose Challenges for New Commercial Applications

Regulatory Environment May Limit Viable Commercial Applications

However, UAVs Continue to Innovate Alongside Regulations

UGVs Need to Navigate Local Regulations

Regulations to Evolve in Coming Years

Questions around Pilot Requirements Will Shape Future Solutions

The Future Lies in Specialized and Automated UVs

Technology Required for More Sophisticated Solutions Still in Infancy

Commercial Applications Should Focus on Establishing Value and Reliability

Companies Must Establish Value and Identify Factors that Enable Early Adoption

Demonstrating Safe and Reliable Technologies Is Key to Navigating Evolving Regulations

Logistics Applications Are Coming, but Focus Should Be on the Best Place to Provide Value

Companies Adopting UV Solutions Need to Examine and Identify How These Solutions Can Provide Meaningful Value

  • UAV Hobbyist and Commercial Fleet Size, US: 2016-2021
  • UAV Gathering Multispectral Data
  • Example of UV-Integrated Delivery Vehicle

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