top 3 commercial drone manufacturers of 2021

The top 3 commercial drone manufacturers of 2021 (aren’t the same as in 2020)

The top drone manufacturers of 2021 have some similarities as the biggest drone manufacturers named in 2020 — but they aren’t all the same.

German analytics firm Drone Industry Insights analyzed more than 500 global drone manufacturers to find the top drone manufacturers based on the following three criteria:

  • Company size
  • Company development
  • Public attention

And perhaps surprising to no one is the top commercial drone manufacturer: DJI. But the other two — and particularly No. 3 — might actually surprise you. Here are the top three commercial drone manufacturers of 2021, according to Drone Industry Insights:

  1. DJI
  2. Parrot
  3. XAG

DJI and Parrot both appeared in the top three in Drone Industry Insights’ 2020 version of the same report. Last year, Parrot came in position three, and has moved to position two this year. DJI remains highly dominant in position one.

“The Chinese manufacturer DJI is the undisputed leader of commercial drone manufacturers and ranks first in spite of the accusations of espionage by the U.S. military and the U.S. Department of the Interior,” according to a statement from DII, referencing ongoing concerns about Chinese-made drones. “Its ownership of between 70-80% market share in the worldwide commercial sector speaks for itself.”

The anti-Chinese drone sentiment referenced by DII largely kicked off in 2017 within the U.S. government after a U.S. Army memo prohibited troops from using DJI drones because of cyber-security concerns. Later, the Trump administration explored an executive order that would ban U.S. federal departments and agencies from buying or using foreign-made drones.

DJI is on a tear in developing new products. This fall, DJI launched three new products: the Ronin 4D, the DJI Action 2 and the DJI Mavic 3 drone.

Parrot, which makes the Anafi drone, had a relatively tough year, but still managed to move up a spot.

“Despite difficult years with staff layoffs and continued sales declines, Parrot remains one of the world’s most prominent drone manufacturers,” according to a statement from DII. “Like many other manufacturers, Parrot is using the opportunity in the U.S. to offer their products to governmental entities (like the U.S. Army or the Defences Innovation Unit) to replace DJI products.”

Among its 2021 achievements was partnering with Verizon and Skyward to bring the first out-of-the-box, Verizon 4G LTE connected drone solution to the U.S.

New to this year’s list is XAG. This Chinese drone manufacturer began by primarily selling consumer drones before transitioning to primarily manufacturing agricultural drones. Though, XAG had been making crop-dusting drones as early as 2013. These days, XAG owns more than half of China’s agricultural drone market.

Pushed off the podium for the top three drone manufacturers of 2021 is Yuneec. The company at one point was a strong competitor to DJI in term of camera drones largely due to its Yuneec Typhoon H drone, but has since largely behind other companies including Parrot. Other upcoming players in the camera drone space that are taking over market share from Yuneec include Skydio — which makes the crash-proof, Skydio 2 follow-me drone, and Autel Robotics.

The top dual-use drone manufacturers of 2021

DII’s report also looked at the top dual-use drone manufacturers of 2021, which DII defines as companies that manufacture drones for commercial and military markets. Manufacturers of purely military drones are not included in this category.

Here are the top three dual-use drone manufacturers of 2021:

  1. AeroVironment
  2. Insitu
  3. Aeronautics

Those are the same exact top three dual-use drone manufacturers that we saw in 2020 — and in the same order, too. And all three are still rapidly growing. AeroVironment increased its revenues to $395 million in the fiscal year 2021, up from $367.3 million in 2020.

See DII’s compete report on the top drone manufacturers of 2021 here.

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