The drone industry has provided opportunities for growth in tons of related industries — agriculture, mapping, artificial intelligence, RC hobby piloting, you name it. But the explosive growth in the drone industry has also paved the way for an industry to grow that doesn’t quite mesh 100% with the drone industry in every way: the anti-drone industry. New research indicates the counter-drone market could be worth $6.6 billion by 2024.
German-based drone analytics firm Drone Industry Insights studied 575 counter-drone solutions, 253 counter-drone companies and 45 counter-drone contracts. And with their analysis, the research firm said they predict that the global, counter-drone market will grow to $6.6 billion USD by the 2024 at a 41.4% compound annual growth rate.
Anti-drone companies are exactly what they sound like — they build products such as jamming devices or tracking software to stop drones from flying in certain areas. Most companies provide either detection systems or interdiction systems — though companies that build products that serve a combination of the two are the most in-demand.
It’s a type of tech that everyone from governments to private companies have been calling for, such as fire departments, who can’t fight fires from the air when drones are flying nearby. Even Apple has had to deal with rogue drones over its property.
A number of counter-drone companies have received big time funding. Just last month, San Francisco-based anti-drone technology startup Dedrone announced that it received $12.1 million in a funding round led by European technology investor TempoCap. DII estimates that more than $280 million USD have been invested in counter-drone companies since 2012 — a figure they say is growing exponentially.
Other money to anti-drone industry is being doled out in the form of hackathon or competition prize money. For example, a March 2019 FPV-like event in the Netherlands dubbed DroneClash awarded €50.000 in prize money (that’s nearly $60,000) in a competition that called for entrants to build ant-drone tech.
Among the notable companies working in the anti-drone tech space include tech companies like DroneShield and Blackberry; major aviation players and defense contractors Raytheon, Boeing and Airbus; and even the Department of Defense.
But even though these companies are “anti-drone”, many in the drone industry have come to embrace them as a way of cracking down on bad operators. Many people, both in the drone industry and outside of it, have been calling for more anti-drone technology after a number of high-profile incidents where drones have disrupted important operations. For example, a 2018 viral video of a drone flying near a Frontier airplane in Vegas concerned drone pilots, who even called for the FAA to find the pilot and take action.
And more counter-drone tech could stop bad actors who give a bad name to the drone industry, such as the time when holiday travelers in the U.K. got hit hard in 2018 due to an unprecedented airport shutdown that many believe was caused by a rogue drone flying near London’s Gatwick airport in the days ahead of Christmas 2019.
Even still, it’s not smooth sailing for the counter-drone industry. Just as the drone industry has grown at a slower pace than some may have hoped due to tight (and often unknown) regulations, regulations also remain a hurdle for counter-drone systems as well.
What’s your take on the counter-drone market? Is it a welcome technology to prevent bad actors from messing up and giving responsible, good drone pilots a bad name?