The aerial imaging market was valued at USD 1,984.2 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 4,532.1 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of 15.47% during the forecast period 2022-2027.
- Aerial imaging and its evolution into video imagery have been captured using various small aerial platforms for over three decades. Small-scale platforms, such as radio-controlled model aircraft, helicopters that use small 35 mm SLR, and light-weighted video cameras have been used to acquire color, panchromatic, color infrared (CIR), and multispectral aerial photography for a wide range of applications.
- The market has been augmented by the technology development of ready-to-fly (RTF) devices, soft-copy photogrammetry software, low-cost digital cameras, image processing, GPS, thermal, multispectral, hyperspectral, and LiDAR sensors. UAVs have become a sophisticated means of acquiring high-resolution photographic and 4K video datasets for small-area coverage studies.
- Aerial imaging uses GPS, which aids in the precise location. For instance, farmers use GPS targeting to monitor the health of the crops, identify problem areas and spray fertilizer. Energy and power site management benefits from the precision of aerial imaging, as it gets repaired from weather damages and can be targeted more accurately.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased demand for aerial imagery, including studying the economic impact of the virus and conducting remote monitoring of infrastructure and facilities. The demand increased from various industries, including government, energy, power, oil, and gas. Also, the imagery monitored supply chain situations during the pandemic’s peak.
- Although the trend of drone surveying is already becoming mainstream, the COVID-19 pandemic tipped the scale in its favor substantially. UAVs have become a go-to technology during the COVID-19 pandemic because they can accomplish tasks without contact. They have played a crucial role in surveying and mapping areas where hospitals and COVID-19 test centers can be built and monitoring such sites. Police departments also use maps that are being created using aerial imagery. The department uses it for the movement of essential items, placing physical distancing markers, workforce allocation, deciding where to set up isolation centers, marking nearby hospitals and police stations from hotspots, and the shortest routes for easy movement in case of an emergency.
Aerial Imaging Market Trends
Construction Industry is Expected to Grow Significantly
- In terms of application, aerial imaging for the construction industry is expected to grow rapidly. Aerial imaging is expected to play an essential role in the construction process.
- Using aerial imaging platforms such as drones or crewless aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the construction industry helps the builders survey the site by using high-resolution images and topographic information, which are considered highly accurate. This comprehensive information aids the engineers in estimating project costs and minimizing the cost overrun by preparing a robust project and effective time management.
- According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction sector is expected to grow by 2.6% between 2021 and 2022. This equates to the creation of 1.6 million new jobs. To manage and interpret the data generated by new technology, an influx of educated and experienced workers will be required.
- Construction site aerial imaging is a cost-effective tool that enables contractors and land developers to effectively manage all stages of the construction process, from planning to completion, while keeping timelines on track, staying within budget, and providing accurate information to stakeholders along the way. The aerial photography and video services will capture every angle of the project and integrate various technologies, whether an industrial refinery, commercial real estate complex, or residential housing development.
North America Holds a Significant Market Share
- North America is one of the major investors and adopters of the studied market due to the high level of research done by the regional companies and the increasing adoption of the technologies among the regional end-user industries.
- Aerial imaging is used in extracting information on land cover maps, vegetation maps, soil maps, and geology maps using spatial data captured from orthographic images. Aerial imaging is also used in government-based applications such as inland and property information, archaeology, environmental studies, and disaster and emergency response management. Aerial imaging is then used to develop plans, maps, and forecasts that are crucial for accurately presenting the earth’s surface. Also, aerial imaging is gaining prominence among engineers, planners, and developers in land mapping and development.
- The number of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), sometimes drones, used by the US military and civil agencies is expanding. Six UAS test sites and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence were established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA also intends to collaborate with the technology industry as part of the Focus Area Pathfinder initiative.
- Additionally, increasing government spending on the construction industry. For instance, in December 2021, with the passing of President Biden’s historic infrastructure bill, the construction industry is bracing for a substantial boost in investment. Contractors and surveyors will undoubtedly be in great demand to oversee a variety of civil constructions around the country, with USD 110 billion set aside for roads, bridges, and other significant infrastructure projects. Factors such as the growing use of technologies and the number of construction projects of the government have boosted the demand for the benefit of technologies for the inspection, monitoring, and surveillance of the site area are some critical reasons for the market growth.
- The US military and civil government are increasing their number of operations concerning UAS, sometimes referred to as drones. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established six UAS test sites and the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The FAA also plans partnerships with the technology industry through the Focus Area Pathfinder initiative.
Aerial Imaging Market Competitor Analysis
Companies operating in the market are players engaged in providing aerial imagery or solutions based on the imagery. The emergence of start-ups and new players in the market and growing technological advancements in commercial solutions combined with increasing investments have increased competition. Overall, the market is competitive. This is expected to increase within the forecast period, considering that the companies are moving toward collaboration with analytics firms to enhance their product offerings. Competitive rivalry is moderate and growing in the market.
- July 2021 - senseFly, a leading provider of fixed-wing mapping drones, announced the launch of eBee TAC, an advanced fixed-wing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) designed for covert tactical mapping operations in security defense and governmental sectors. The eBee TAC provides active field personnel access to reliable and accurate location data and maps, offering field intelligence and situational awareness required to act confidently and precisely across rapidly changing environments.
- March 2021 - Nearmap announced that it was building upon its US post-catastrophe (post-cat) aerial imagery program to provide property and casualty insurance carriers with high-resolution aerial captures following catastrophic events within days of capture. Combined with accelerated delivery times from Nearmap, the imagery’s frequency, immediacy, and consistent quality provide a clear view of property damage, even in complex instances that require careful inspection. It allows insurers to determine the damage’s extent and allocate loss adjusters to impacted properties.
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