Global Earth Observation Drones Market 2021

Market Overview

The global market for Earth observation drones was valued at $9,015 million in 2021, and it is projected to reach $18,215 million by 2032, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.88% during the forecast period of 2022-2032. The primary driving factor behind the market’s growth is the increasing adoption of drones for industrial and commercial applications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of drones for commercial purposes, such as solar panel inspections, pipeline inspections, oil and gas field monitoring, and agriculture monitoring, saw a significant increase. Civil-government agencies have also started utilizing drones for activities like border surveillance, civilian monitoring, and disaster management.

Traditionally, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones were primarily used for military applications. However, over the past decade, drones have gained popularity in commercial, industrial, and recreational sectors as well. Currently, the use of drones for various Earth observation applications, including surveying, mapping, inspections, surveillance, and collecting geospatial data, is rapidly advancing. This has led to the growth of drone services and manufacturing businesses. Drones are capable of efficiently, quickly, and cost-effectively collecting large volumes of geospatial data compared to satellite imagery. In recent years, drone technology has witnessed significant growth due to its deployment in sectors such as oil and gas industries, mining, search and rescue, disaster management, environmental monitoring, and agriculture. Apart from military, commercial, and civil government users, drones are now being utilized in areas such as law enforcement, emergency response, and critical infrastructure monitoring. This has led to advancements in compact payloads, sensor varieties, and sensor agnostic drones. Moreover, drones have played a major role in the cinematography and aerial photography industries, contributing to substantial revenue generation for companies like DJI, Parrot Drone SAS, Insitu Inc., and AeroVironment, Inc.

Product Type

Market Report

No. of Pages


Release Date

June 2022

Base Year


Forecast Period


Market Size

USD 9 billion in 2020

Market Segments

Application, Drone Type, Sensor Type, End-User, Region



No. of Companies Mentioned


Military applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, include defense purposes such as surveillance, reconnaissance, and situational awareness. The origins of drones can be traced back to 1917 during World War I when radio control techniques were used to develop unnamed aerial systems. From 1995 onwards, drones gained traction for military applications with the development and use of the MQ-1 Predator drone by the U.S. Air Force. These drones, costing approximately $40 million each, were used for surveillance, reconnaissance, and combat in conflict zones.

Decades of research and development by military agencies paved the way for the development of the first non-military drone in 2006. That same year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued its first commercial drone permit. Government agencies began testing drones for public safety applications like disaster relief, environmental monitoring, and border surveillance. Simultaneously, the commercial market started adopting drones for industrial applications such as pipeline inspections, site monitoring, and agriculture evaluation.

Currently, the utilization of drones for various Earth observation applications is advancing at a rapid pace. This has led to the growth of drone services and manufacturing businesses due to their ability to collect large volumes of geospatial data more efficiently, quickly, and cost-effectively than satellite imagery.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of drones by commercial and civil-government end-users significantly increased. Due to pandemic regulations, many governments and commercial and industrial agencies had to suspend manned inspections and monitoring, relying on drone operations instead. This gave a significant boost to the Earth observation drones market. Technological advancements and increasing demand from various end-users also led to the development of lightweight and cost-effective drones weighing as low as 200 to 500 grams, with prices ranging from $150 to $500. Companies in the drone industry are focusing on developing high-tech sensors to equip drones for providing analytical data and statistics for critical operations. Additionally, companies are working on developing long-endurance drones that can fly at higher altitudes for extended periods.

Emerging applications such as site inspection, monitoring, aerial patrolling, cinematography, and emergency response are driving extensive drone usage. Furthermore, the integration of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to support the growth of drones during the forecast period from 2022 to 2032.

There are several drivers, challenges, and opportunities for the Earth observation drones market. The increase in demand for drones post-COVID-19, the entry of multiple downstream geospatial service providers, the increasing utilization of drone imagery alongside satellite imagery for enhanced geospatial intelligence, and the rising need for on-demand aerial survey requirements are some of the drivers. On the other hand, government regulations for drone manufacturing and sales, the need for qualified operators to conduct drone imaging missions, the impact of conflicts on the commercial industry, and drone battery supply chain shortages pose challenges to the market. Lastly, the integration of artificial intelligence in drones and imagery analytics, along with the growing adoption of Earth observation drones by civil governments, present opportunities for market growth.

Market Segmentation

The market is segmented based on various factors, including application, drone type, sensor type, end-user, and region.

Segmentation by Application
Environmental Monitoring
Disaster Management
Surveying and Mapping
Search and Rescue
Surveillance and Reconnaissance
Industrial Inspection and Monitoring
Agriculture and Forestry

Segmentation by Drone Type

Segmentation by Sensor Type
Hyperspectral Sensor
Infrared Sensor
Electro-Optical Sensor
Red Green Blue (RGB) Sensor
Ground Penetrating Radar

Segmentation by End-User
Civil Government

Segmentation by Region
North America

During the period of 2021-2032, the surveillance and reconnaissance application segment is expected to dominate the global Earth observation drones market. The market size for this segment is projected to be $3,953 million in 2022 and is anticipated to reach $7,593 million by 2032, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.75% during the forecast period.

Surveillance and reconnaissance refer to the close observation of a region or group of people, their activities, and infrastructure in order to gather strategic information. These applications are widely used in the Earth observation drones market. While traditional surveillance methods include GPS tracking, camera observation, and biometric surveillance, drones have become a critical component for defense and military end-users conducting surveillance and reconnaissance operations. Defense industries worldwide are adopting surveillance and reconnaissance drones for their army, navy, and air force to enhance their operations. Unlike helicopters, which are expensive and difficult to operate in challenging terrain and narrow spaces, drones offer a more cost-effective and versatile solution.

The fixed-wing drone type currently has the highest market penetration, followed by the rotor-wing drone type. The fixed-wing drone market is expected to generate revenue of $7,928 million in 2022 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.13% during the forecast period, reaching $15,786 million by 2032. Rotor-wing drones lead the segment because of their vertical take-off capabilities, making them suitable for different geographies, environments, and terrains with minimal space requirements. They can carry heavy payloads and move in any direction easily. Rotor-wing drones also have a higher hovering capacity, which is beneficial for Earth observation applications. Additionally, they are cost-effective for applications that require minimal payloads, such as cinematography.

Commercial end-users are expected to dominate the Earth observation drones market. This sector includes private corporations, real estate agencies, agriculture industries, private mining energy fields, and others. With relaxed government regulations and decreasing costs, commercial end-users are experiencing significant growth. The farming, agricultural, and energy sectors have a growing need for technologically advanced tools, which is contributing to the demand for drones. These industries are utilizing drones for critical and hazardous operations that were previously done manually, such as wind turbine monitoring and pipeline inspections.

In terms of regional dominance, North America is expected to lead the Earth observation drones market during the forecast period. This can be attributed to the presence of key companies engaged in manufacturing Earth observation drones, sensors, and related accessories, as well as repair services. Collaborations between drone manufacturers, sensor manufacturers, analytics providers, and start-ups are further driving market growth. The high research and development investments by key players and the increased number of start-ups and emerging players are also contributing to the market’s expansion. In 2022, North America is projected to account for the highest market share of 32.2% due to the growing demand from civil government and military end-users. Both the United States and Canada are driving this growth, with the U.S. adopting drones for agriculture monitoring, border management, and critical infrastructure inspection, and Canada utilizing drones for environmental monitoring and surveillance.

Europe is expected to hold a market share of 28.0% in 2022 and witness the second-highest growth during the forecast period. Countries such as the U.K., France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia are increasing their use of Earth observation drones due to ongoing geopolitical tensions in the region. Additionally, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s approval of uniform laws for EU countries has facilitated easy drone operations throughout the region, benefiting commercial Earth observation drone operators and manufacturers.

Competitive Landscape

The selection of companies featured in the research study was conducted through a meticulous process, incorporating insights from primary experts and thorough analysis of the companies’ product portfolios, significant advancements, and market penetration.

In 2021, the dominant market players were established companies offering Earth observation drones and associated hardware, which held a substantial market presence of 60.4%. The remaining market share of approximately 39.6% was attributed to emerging-market participants, comprising start-up entities entering the industry.

Key companies profiled in this report include DJI, Parrot Drone SAS, Lockheed Martin Corporation, AeroVironment, Inc., General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation, Embention, Hubsan, INSITU, AgEagle Aerial Systems Inc., Autel Robotics, Ehang, Raytheon Technologies Corporation, Drone Volt S.A., Plymouth Rock Technologies, Wingtra AG, Eagletronics Aviation Private Limited, Skydio, Anduril Industries, Azur Drones.

Recent Industry Developments

In April 2022, ideaForge Technology Private Limited successfully concluded a Series B funding round of $20 million, with leading participation from Florintree. Prominent deep tech investment fund Celesta Capital, along with existing investors Infosys, Qualcomm, and Infina, and the Exim Bank of India, also participated in this funding round. The company intends to utilize these funds to expand its team, engage in research and development activities, and expand its global presence.

In March 2022, Insitu Pacific Pty Ltd was awarded a contract by the Australian Government to supply the new Tactical Integrator Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to the Australian Army under LAND129 Phase 3. The contract encompasses the delivery of the UAS, initial support for the system and associated ground systems, as well as prime systems integrator services. Deliveries are anticipated to take place from 2023 to 2024.

In January 2022, Azur Drones secured funding of nearly $9 million from a private French investor. This funding will facilitate the company’s development plans for 2022, including the introduction of new solutions in industrial inspection, gas detection, and quantification, as well as accelerating international growth.

In January 2022, a significant milestone was achieved with the unveiling of the world’s first Sea-Air Integrated Drone during a flight showcase at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama. This groundbreaking achievement was made possible through the collaboration of Japanese telecommunications company KDDI, Prodrone Co., Ltd, and QYSEA.

In August 2021, Shield AI secured $210 million in a Series D funding round led by Disruptive, a reputable late-stage technology investor based in the United States. Multiple top-tier venture funds, including Point72 Ventures, also participated in this funding round. The funding will empower Shield AI to expedite its growth plans in both the defense and commercial industries.

Key Questions Answered

What are the current trends in the Earth observation drones market, and how do experts anticipate that the market will evolve between 2022 and 2032?

What are the primary factors driving growth and the main challenges faced by drone manufacturers operating in the Earth observation drones market?

What is the projected growth trajectory of the Earth observation drones market during the forecast period of 2022-2032?

What are the existing and emerging opportunities for business expansion in the field of manufacturing Earth observation drones?

What are some of the key business and corporate strategies implemented by major market players to thrive in a highly competitive environment?

Which region is expected to have the greatest market dominance in the Earth observation drones industry by the year 2032?

Original price was: USD 5,250.Current price is: USD 3,150.

Want to customize this report? Our industry specialist will collaborate with you to deliver tailored data within a limited timeframe.
Scroll to Top

Request Free Sample Report

Global Earth Observation Drones Market 2021

Please fill out our form and we will get back to you.


Global Earth Observation Drones Market 2021

Please fill out our form and we will get back to you.