The already-robust $350M sensors for drones and robots market will double by 2021, reaching $709M at a 12.4% CAGR from 2015 – 2021.
The forthcoming robotics revolution will cover the entire market spectrum
Driven by a full applications range, the sensors for drones and robots market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.4% from 2015 - 2021, reaching a total revenue of US$709M by 2021.
This is Yole Développement’s first report concerning sensors for robots and drones. We’ve witnessed the emerging vitality of the drones and robots markets and their reliance on key sensor technologies like MEMS and imaging sensors. Already-developed technologies for currently maturing markets like mobile and automotive are being brought by innovators into the emerging drones and robots space. As new applications are created, the need for enhanced sensor technology takes its place in the virtuous circle.
Currently, the two largest markets for drones and robots are defense and industrial, both of which owe much to the global policy of the US and China. In the recent years the eastern Pacific Ocean side has seen massive investment in robotic warfare while the western Pacific has made a similar-sized push towards robotic manufacturing. On a global scale, the US is also bolstering its industrial activity by using robotics, while China is boosting its military through the latest robotics technology.
Through our research, we’ve identified at least 10 new applications for which drones and robots will generate more than $1B in revenue per year. As numerous new applications covering the full market spectrum emerge, including consumer drones, autonomous vehicles, hospitality robots, exoskeletons, and telepresence, the drones and robots markets will become less military and manufacturing-oriented. These new applications, which will all enjoy a compound growth rate of 40% and above over the next five years, are detailed in our report.
For each market, a huge diversity of robots and applications are being explored by numerous emerging players. This is a complexity inherent to early-stage markets, where a diversity of competing technologies can coexist. Our report provides a structured vision of this complex ecosystem, which some are calling the “Cambrian explosion”1 of robotics.
Sensors, which are key enablers for the emerging robotics revolution, will play a role in all applications
A robotic device is a closed loop of actuation, computation, and perception (sensing). The previous two digital and industrial revolutions ushered in the first two capabilities, with sensing the only one still outstanding. Mobile and automotive have been instrumental in the maturation of acoustic, optical, and positional sensors, while new sensor categories like touch, microwave, and environmental will serve drones and robots.
Optical sensors, in particular visible cameras, lidar, and 3D cameras, are the major enablers and beneficiaries of the “drones and robots Cambrian explosion”. Acoustic and positional sensors will also enjoy double-digit growth rates for drones and robots applications. The current $351M drones and robots sensor market will reach $709M by 2021, driven by a CAGR of 12.4%.
During our research, our most eye-opening discovery was the extremely diverse sensor revenue distribution amongst the markets we analyzed. From consumer, commercial, and transport to medical, security, industrial, and defense, every market will generate sensor revenue. Marketing-wise, this is especially beneficial to smaller companies focused on a few specific niches. The drones and robots markets are the perfect target for emerging sensing technologies.
Among the numerous applications relevant to sensors for drones and robots, there isn’t a clear case for cheap volume-oriented sensors versus high-end expensive ones. The drones and robots markets are still emerging, and first must prove their benefit. In this context they are particularly price-conscious at the beginning of product expansion. By our observation, once they have proven themselves the ASP stops shrinking and starts rising again. Performance at low cost is an enabler, but cost for performance is a driving force. This is currently evident in the consumer drone space, along with vacuum cleaner robots and hospitality robots. In the future, we expect to see this trend across the board.
Key technologies such as 3D cameras, solid-state lidar AND ultraprecise gyros are in development
Emerging players like Parrot, iRobot, and DJI Innovations have been able to extract significant value from their technology and market vision. Agile and technology-savvy, these companies are the templates for new drones and robots companies because of their ability to create from scratch new sensing subsystems like Vision SLAM from iRobot, Parrot’s electronic stabilization camera, and the gyro-stabilized gimbals from DJI. Complete mastery of sensing technology is critical for drones and robots[BS2] companies.
On the flip side, the sensors being developed today have a hard time finding the critical market size needed to sustain R&D efforts. Sensor companies usually rely on other markets or hope for the development of another, i.e. IoT. Therefore, a certain mismatch exists between system-maker expectations and sensor company behavior. At worst, this can be the source of missed opportunities for the entire ecosystem. Our report aims to provide the “big picture” for this emerging field, along with some background on the potential business at sake.
On one hand, there are many perfectly-suited technologies on the market. Ultrasonic rangers, proximity sensors, inertial monitoring units, magnetic and optical encoders, and of course compact camera modules are all ready to be integrated by drones and robots manufacturers. On the other hand, new sensors are preparing to transform our world. Several technologies revolving around 3D sensing (3D cameras, sonar, radar or lidar) and other modalities such as multispectral, IR imaging and gas sensing will be necessary for the robotics revolution to deliver on its promises. Drones and robots are a key opportunity for sensor and system makers, with potentially huge mutual benefits. Let’s be a part of it!
Objectives of the Report
Identification and analysis of drones and robots applications:
- Determination of the applications range
- Market and technology segmentation
- Market trends and forecasts
- Key players at application and system levels
Analysis and description of the sensor technologies involved:
- Sensor forecast per application and technology
- Major global actors
- Technology trends
- Main drivers and challenges