News and comment. DRONELIFE published more than 840 drone industry news this year. From the delivery of drones during the pandemic to the US-China trade war to new government regulations, we’ve covered a wide variety of drivers for the drone industry. Out of all of those stories, here are three of the main themes of 2020: and just a few predictions for 2021.
We selected these topics through our analysis to see which stories had the most resonance. We then made editorial decisions to remove those stories like product sales and seasonal items.
number 1: DJI is the world’s leading drone manufacturer with an estimated market share of between 65 and 80%. It’s no surprise, then, that almost all of the drone industry news with DJI piques a lot of interest. There were several topics this year. DJI introduced new products: Mavic Air 2, Matrice M300 and Mini 2: all highly rated and well received. They were also embroiled in the U.S.-China trade dispute, which led to a decision by the Department of Justice to ban the use of DOJ program funds to buy and operate DJI drones, and most recently their admission to the U.S. Department of Commerce “Entity” list that makes it difficult for US companies to export components into them.
Number 2: The SUAS Blue List – and other news from the US drone industry. Following news of the DOJ’s decision, the Department of Defense’s Blue sUAS list was released. This list of five US-made drone solutions that were reviewed by the Department of Defense received a lot of attention: as did each of the manufacturers on the list. In addition to the Blue sUAS solution, other solutions made in the USA also received a lot of attention.
Number 3: The COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic was the main story of 2020 – and it was also the biggest story in drone industry news. New uses for drone delivery, new ways to keep businesses going, fever-seeking drones, and new supply chain solutions were part of the story. We hope the 2021 pandemic will be a thing of the past, but this year it was a major topic in the industry.
A few predictions (or maybe wild guesses) for 2021
Three topics do not even describe all events in the industry this year. There have been major regulatory changes, major advances in new technologies such as Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), and important new applications for drone technology. Based on all of the stories DRONELIFE has covered this year, here are some predictions for big stories in 2021.
Number 1: Passenger drones will continue to be a big story. Although they didn’t make the top 3, passenger drone trials and investments increased this year, and over the next year some of those trials with urban air mobility and drone taxis will evolve into working passenger drone systems. Investment in the space will continue and interest will increase as technology and regulations develop.
Number 2: Flight Beyond Line of Sight (BVLOS). With remote ID, operations on people and operations at night, US regulators can focus on BVLOS operations. More waivers, more litigation, and more discussion can be expected – and maybe a Proposed Rule-Making Notice (NPRM)? Who knows what a year will bring!
Number 3: Drones as first responders. The public safety sector is growing rapidly in the drone industry and in the drone industry news. DRONERESPONDERS has delivered a lot of news this year with surveys and working groups: Your recent efforts will help public safety agencies across the country learn more about the drone as a first responder program in Chula Vista, CA.
2020 wasn’t all bad for the drone industry – and we expect 2021 to be a banner year! We look forward to covering the above along with all the news we haven’t thought of: This is what makes the drone industry exciting!
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has written over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
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