While Amazon’s delivery drones and others like it keep making headlines, information technology research and advisory provider Gartner doesn’t believe the service will lift off anytime soon. According to the company’s recent forecast, delivery drones still face a myriad of complications such as return on investment, cost of drones, operational costs, and customer delivery.
"Delivery drones will be mired in logistical issues like the time needed to return a drone to its origin point after delivery, and will amount to less than 1% of the commercial market by 2020," said Gerald Van Hoy, senior research analyst at Gartner. "We expect that delivery drones will begin finding a niche in business-to-business applications first, particularly for internal services within one company where logistics will not be such a big factor."
However, the company believes the rest of the drone market will continue to grow. According to the forecast, the personal and commercial drone market is growing rapidly with the global market revenue predicted to increase by 34%, reaching more than US$6 billion this year and $11.2 billion by 2020.
Gartner says the personal drone market is currently dominating the commercial drone market due to its costs. Personal drones can fly about 5,000 meters for one hour within 500 meters and weighing less than 2 kilograms. Commercial drones are a bit more expensive and feature a higher payload, longer flight times, advanced sensors, and controllers for safe and secure operations. Gartner does note that more industries are taking interest in commercial drones for their ability to map, deliver and inspect.
The forecast sees agriculture as the first big commercial drone market, but it believes industrial inspections will eventually be the most common commercial drone use case for oil and gas, energy, infrastructure, and transportation.
"The commercial and personal drone markets are increasingly overlapping as lower-priced personal devices are being used for commercial ventures," said Van Hoy. "Personal drone vendors are now aggressively trying to position themselves in the commercial market. Recent technological advances blur the lines, allowing personal drones to be used in many special-purpose applications such as surveillance, 3D mapping and modeling."