Drone market overview

We have investigated products, trends, adjacent markets, and startups within the commercial drone ecosystem. Trends, opportunities, and challenges in drone market reflect many of those in the smartphone market. Both markets have similar enabling technologies in common, such as processors and inertial measurement units (IMUs), which have led to drastic industry growth.

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Drones are airborne mobile sensors; use cases are limited only with our imagination

Opportunity is in technologies that enhance drones. These include components that improve drone efficiency or in data acquisition, processing & analysis technologies. Similar to mobile devices, future revenue lies mainly on software applications for drones; however, robust and reliable high efficient drone platforms will be the key to run those apps. Just as mobile app developers exist today, there will be a market for drone app and software developers.
But how do you incorporate sensors with these drones and crunch all their data as drones uploading amazing amounts of data and having no way of being able to process it?

Also the problems are similar between the drones and the smartphones. Both suffer from battery duration. Just like we feel happy if the smartphone battery lasts one day, drone pilots feel more than happy if they manage to fly their drones over half an hour.
Therefore, the two most immediate areas for technology disruption will be:

  • Improving flight time
  • Dealing with data overload

Investment Analysis

Analysis of nearly 170 companies reveals that private funding in the drone market has surpassed $836 million total to date. The following are the top investors in the drone ecosystem:



Lux Capital -> AirMap, CyPhy Works, Echodyne, BrightSky Labs
Andreessen Horowitz -> Matternet, Airware, Skydio
Accel Partners -> DJI, DJI’s Skyfund, Skydio
Lemnos Labs -> Vires Aero, Ceres Imaging, Airware, Swift Navigation
Robolution Capital -> Neurala, Fotokite
Qualcomm Ventures -> 3DR, Brain Corp., Skycatch, Skyfront, Swift Navigation
NVIDIA -> MotionDSP, DJI, Parrot, Kespry, Percepto (Partner)
Intel Capital -> Yuneec, Airware, PrecisionHawk
Skyfund (backed by DJI and Accel) -> DroneBase
Commercial Drone Fund (backed by Airware) -> Redbird, Sky-Futures, Cape

Below chart shows that half of the total investment volume in drone ecosystem has been received by five companies: DJI, 3DR, Movidius, Yuneec, Aeyron Labs.

investment in drone companies

Competitive Analysis for Drone Manufacturers

Reading between the lines of various market research reports, it becomes clear that the focus is shifting towards commercial drone markets; and consumer-grade drone manufacturers are focusing on leveraging platforms in commercial markets.

Below are the top companies in the drone ecosystem with their scope:

The Big Three

Google: Drone R&D efforts fall under its Project Loon and Project Wing divisions.
Facebook: The company’s Connectivity Lab has designed and developed the Aquila Drone.
Amazon: Has developed the Prime Air to carry out future customer package deliveries.

Leading Players

DJI: Owns ~70% of the consumer drone market. Today it seeks to expand to specific commercial market segments.
3DR: Focusing on capturing the consumer drone market. It is leveraging its open source platform as a differential advantage vs. rival DJI.
Parrot: Historically viewed as the low-cost provider for the consumer market. Through strategic investments it aims to capture commercial opportunities.

Emerging Players

Airware: Building a software platform for enterprise drone applications. It provides the software, user interface, and cloud back-end for users.
Skycatch: Developing drones for job site monitoring. FAA regulations led the company to focus on overseas markets.
Movidius: Designing microchips specifically for machine vision.

Drone Supply Chain Landscape

Drone supply chain fall under one of the four technology areas:

Platform Manufacturers

Software & Data Solutions Providers

Component & Payload Suppliers

Service Providers

Consumer: low-cost solutions Operating System: enable autonomous UAVs and command & control capabilities Processing: hardware executing specific functions Drone-as-a-Service: UAV control & analytics service
Hybrid: consumer/commercial applications Data Analytics & Processing: image processing, mapping, & measuring solutions Structural: parts that improve efficiency or design of the drone Cloud/Data Storage: data hosting for UAVs
Niche: specific market applications (e.g. agriculture or oil/gas) Applications: enhance the functionality of drones Imaging: additional sensor types (multispectral, thermal, etc.) Fleet Support: services to sustain and maintain drone operations


A diverse, market-specific drone ecosystem is emerging; companies are providing drones and software designed for specific drone applications.

We, at Turncircles, are putting all our efforts to continuously improve key drone components by developing cutting edge weight reducing technologies. Our 1st generation ultra-light electric motor and improved airframe design will be soon commercially available.


Companies to Watch

3D Robotics https://3dr.com/
Aerialtronics www.aerialtronics.com/
Aeryon Labs https://www.aeryon.com/
Agribotix agribotix.com/
Agriflight agriflight.com/
Airinov www.airinov.fr/en/
AirMap https://www.airmap.com/
Airobot www.airobot.eu/
Airphrame https://www.airphrame.com/
Airware https://www.airware.com/
Algolux algolux.com/
Alta Devices
Altitude Angel https://www.altitudeangel.com/
Amprius www.amprius.com/
Augmented Pixels augmentedpixels.com/
Aurora Flight Sciences http://www.aurora.aero/
AUVSI www.auvsi.org/
Better View https://www.better.vu/
Botlink www.botlink.com/
Ceres Imaging www.ceresimaging.net/
Clearpath Robotics https://www.clearpathrobotics.com/
CyPhy cyphyworks.com/
Digital Harvest www.digitalharvest.farm/
DJI www.dji.com/
Dreamhammer www.dreamhammer.com/
DroneBase https://www.dronebase.com/
DroneDeploy https://www.dronedeploy.com/
Dronomy www.dronomy.com/
Echodyne echodyne.com/
EHANG www.ehang.com/
Enevate www.enevate.com/
Fleye gofleye.com/
Freeskies freeskies.co/
Garuda Robotics garuda.io/
GoPro https://gopro.com/
Hexo+ https://hexoplus.com/
Hive UAV hiveuav.com/
Hivemapper https://hivemapper.com/
Huvr www.huvrdata.com/
Identified Technologies www.identifiedtech.com/
Kairos Aerospace kairosaerospace.com/
Kespry kespry.com/
Kittyhawk https://kittyhawk.io/
LaserMotive lasermotive.com/
Matternet https://mttr.net/
Mavrx https://www.mavrx.co/
Measure www.measure.aero/
MicaSense www.micasense.com/
Mobileye www.mobileye.com/
MotionDSP https://www.motiondsp.com/
Movidius www.movidius.com/
NASA www.nasa.gov/
Neurala www.neurala.com/
Parrot https://www.parrot.com
Percepto www.percepto.co/
Pix4D https://pix4d.com/
PrecisionHawk www.precisionhawk.com/
PRENAV www.prenav.com/
Propeller Aero https://www.propelleraero.com/
Pulse Aerospace www.pulseaero.com/
Qelzal www.qelzal.com/
Quanergy Systems www.quanergy.com/
Redbird www.getredbird.com/en/
Sharper Shape sharpershape.com/
Skycatch https://www.skycatch.com/
Skydio https://www.skydio.com/
Skyfront https://skyfront.com/
Sky-Futures www.sky-futures.com/
Skysense www.skysense.co/
SkySpecs www.skyspecs.com/
SkyWard https://skyward.io/
SRI International https://www.sri.com/
Stereo Labs https://www.stereolabs.com/
Sunlight Photonics www.sunlightphotonics.com/
Swift Navigation https://www.swiftnav.com/
Top Flight www.tflighttech.com/
Trimble www.trimble.com/
Turncircles https://turncircles.com/
UAV-IQ www.uaviq.farm
Xaircraft www.xaircraft.cn/en
Yuneec https://yuneec.com/