Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2019

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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15 June/July 2019  unmanned systems inside by Joanne Costin Unmanned systems technology was born in the military. It continues to evolve in ways that will impact commercial applications. DEFENSE COMMERCIAL NEXUS Market Map D efense purchases continue to dominate the $100 billion UAS mar- ket, accounting for 70% of sales. But commercial market growth for unmanned systems is accelerating, in part because of advances in military technology. "The military market has already had all of the problems that the commercial industry is going to have," said Michael Blades, research director and growth consultant for Frost & Sullivan of New York. "Figuring out how to manage data and what is important to a successful mission—the military calls it processing, exploitation and dissemination [PED]." WHERE DEFENSE HAS AN EDGE Both commercial and defense market segments want to harness the power of artificial intelligence to reduce the time needed to make decisions based on drone data. But according to Blades, defense efforts in this area have gone on far longer and are well funded. "I don't think the commercial entities have close to the magnitude of the R&D that's available on the military side," Blades said. In 2018, the R&D budget for the Department of Defense totaled $66 billion. The ability to f ly multiple drones through a single control system is a capability defense continues to advance. The Navy 's "Ghost Fleet" project will engineer a f leet of coordinated, interoperable surface drones to share time-sensitive combat information in real time. Commercial markets will need similar command and control technology for drone delivery and ap- plications involving drone swarms. According to Barbara G. Grant, an imaging sensor expert and owner of Grant Drone Solutions, of Cupertino, California, the military has historically required much greater imaging accuracy than commercial applications. "Two application areas that benefit the most from higher-quality imaging are law enforcement and precision agriculture," said Grant. The challenge is reducing the cost and weight of sensors and cameras to meet commercial applications. Grant believes radiometric calibration, which is routinely used in military applications, will benefit UAS usage in precision agriculture. In recent years, leading defense contractors have developed products for commercial applications (see Chart on page 16). Yet the two markets remain distinct. Commercial drones are built to be affordable rather than meet military requirements. "In a large military development, the sale has already been made," said Grant. "In the commercial segment, you are always trading off cost and functionality." "Where the military contractors have an edge is their buying power," said Blades. "They have the ability to seek out the best-of-breed companies, ac- Through the Federal Laboratory Consortium, the Air Force Research Laboratory shared its Vigilant Spirit Control Software—and its capability to control multiple groups and types of UAVs—with several businesses. GLOBAL SALES of UNMANNED SURFACE VEHICLES GROWTH RATES (COMPOUND ANNUAL GROWTH RATES) COMMERCIAL MILITARY Source: MarketsandMarkets 60 % 40 % * Source: Adroit Market Research 2020–2025 ** Source: MarketsandMarkets 2017–2022 *** Source: MarketsandMarkets 2018–2025 T O TA L : $ 5 3 4 M I L L I O N ( 2 0 1 8) WATER: SURFACE UNMANNED AIR SYSTEMS* 40.7 % 14.06 % UNMANNED UNDERWATER VEHICLES** 13.08 % UNMANNED SURFACE VEHICLES** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (MILITARY)*** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (MILITARY)*** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (MILITARY)*** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (MILITARY)*** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (MILITARY)*** 11.77 % UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (COMMERCIAL)*** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (COMMERCIAL)*** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (COMMERCIAL)*** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (COMMERCIAL)*** UNMANNED GROUND VEHICLES (COMMERCIAL)*** 11.36 % "In the commercial segment, you are always trading off cost and functionality." Barbara G. Grant, Owner, Grant Drone Solutions

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