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Commercial Drone Aircraft Apps will Drive New Demand

The spectrum of possibilities for device applications within the Internet of Things (IoT) may be limited more by our own imagination than any other factor. As an example, consider the variety of demonstrations for small drone aircraft technology at the International CES 2015 this week in Las Vegas.

Imagine capturing live video from a drone aircraft and streaming it over the internet, via a 4G LTE wireless network connection. This is just one of the emerging applications for this new technology category.

The Small Unmanned Arial Systems (sUAS) market  -- that's the formal name for a class of drones -- will surpass $8.4 billion by 2018, according to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research.

By 2019, the Commercial sector will dominate the overall sUAS market with revenues exceeding $5.1 billion (that's a 51 percent CAGR from 2014 to 2019), or roughly five times larger than the Prosumer/Hobby market, and 2.3x greater than the Military/Civil market segment.

Moreover, ABI says that it's application services -- industry specific applications, as well as data, operator and modeling services -- and not platforms and other hardware technologies, which will be the key driver for the growth of the Commercial sector.

Ongoing research advancements, technological developments, and rapidly dropping prices for increasingly capable enabling technologies, have combined to remove barriers to innovation and commercialization.

These advances will spur the development of new sUAS use-cases and increase the ways in which they can be applied in the broader business-oriented marketplace.

According to the ABI assessment, the sUAS market was not defined by, or limited to, the unmanned aerial system platforms and airframes alone, but also includes other technologies, products and services that are ancillary to the use of small unmanned drone aircraft.

"The commercial sector is the sweet spot for the sUAS market, a fact recognized by both traditional defense industry suppliers such as Elbit Technologies, AeroVironment, and Aeryon Labs, as well as providers to the Prosumer/Hobbyist marketplace -- including DJI, Parrot, SenseFly, 3D Robotics, and others," said Dan Kara, practice director at ABI Research

As a result, both groups of sUAS makers, along with other classes of solution providers, are aggressively targeting the Commercial sector through acquisitions, internal development, partnerships and investment.

Starting in 2015, drones may become one of the more interesting categories of IoT devices to follow.

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