Consumer drones sales to reach almost 4 million this year, 16 million by 2020
A new study from Juniper Research released today revealed the path forward for the consumer drone industry, and it appears to be a bright one. Reduced component costs combined with increased competition from other drone manufacturers and a greater number of use cases for consumers will push the per-year global drone shipments up to more than 20 million per year in the next few years—a drastic increase over the roughly 4 million drones that will be shipped this year.
Juniper’s study found that already the usage of drones has extended beyond the core base of hobbyists, which was spurred by the drop in retail price and the increased functionality of the devices. Further, and perhaps most important to the success of the consumer drone industry, is the fact that the unmanned aerial vehicles are increasingly offering the capability to live stream videos and take impressive photos.
Another potential boon to the industry, Juniper said, is the forthcoming proliferation of augmented reality technology in UAVs, which will open up opportunities for innovation with applications for both the consumer and commercial segments.
While most of the news was great for the consumer drone industry, the Juniper study also found that there are still a number of security and privacy concerns that are impacting manufacturers and developers. For one, Juniper said that drones’ use of unlicensed spectrum and their reliance on GPS leaves them vulnerable to hacking by third parties. Those hackers, the company said, could take control of the UAV by intercepting “unencrypted data feeds or commandeering the WiFi connection.”
Juniper’s research also highlighted the growing concerns around drones’ potential invasion of privacy with fears that the devices could be used to snoop, spy, and stalk as well as other criminal surveillance activities. “Given drones’ capabilities to gather, store, and disseminate images online, consumers are understandably uneasy that—for example—they could hover over (or within) private property and take photographs without permission,” research coauthor Dr. Windsor Holden said in a statement.