Unmanned aerial vehicles are defined as remotely piloted aircrafts or drones. A solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle uses limitless power source in case of electrical systems including propulsion systems. Solar radiation gets converted to electric power using photovoltaic cells, and then the electric motor converts it to kinetic energy.
One of the key factors driving the growth of the global solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) market is the improved flight range alongside enhanced endurance. The acceptance of solar-powered drones in civil and commercial applications has raised the use of present technologies. The limited endurance capacity of conventional drones remains to be a chief issue in case of commercial drones.In order to mitigate this restraint, government agencies collaborated with defense contractors for developing solar-powered UAVs which can fly over jet stream.
However, there are certain restraining factors which are hindering the growth of the solar-powered UAV market. The challenges include dissimilar restrictions and laws, technical constraints, and deferred or withdrawn funds. The utility of solar-powered drones depends largely on the restrictions and laws of the nation where these UAVs are operated. Commercial bodies such as agriculture, entertainment, telecommunications, real estate and journalism, and governments among others have focused on the commercial feasibility of using solar-powered drones. Besides, in several regions across the globe, superior quality internet services coverage is restricted to urban sections of the society. Of the world population, only about a third makes use of internet services.
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In spite of the restraints, innovative technologies have entered the global solar-powered UAV market in the recent past. Over the last decade, hydrogen fuel and photovoltaic cells, and hybrid electric propulsion engines have been used increasingly used for powering these solar UAVs. Another emerging opportunity that is propelling the growth for this marketis the initiative for connecting remoteareas. Internet services has become a necessary condition all over the world. Besides, as human needs rise, the quality of these services is expected to be enhanced further. Another key opportunity lies in the escalating deployment of solar-powered UAVs in emerging economies.
The civil and commercial segment grows at a faster rate, owing to the use in professional aerial photography and surveillance, agriculture, data collection, recreation and hobby, motion pictures filmmaking, journalism, law enforcement, scientific research, conservation, anti-poaching activity, mineral, oil and gas production and exploration, disaster relief, archaeology, passenger transport, and cargo transport.
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According to geography, the global solar-powered UAV market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America. Of late, the Americas have dominated the global market. In the U.S., solar-powered UAVs are mainly used for defense andmilitary applications. Besides, major nations in the North America and Latin America regions such as Canada, Mexico, and Brazil have been expanding their solar-powered UAV capacities. The U.S. has been dominating this market because of high investment from the NASA, and the Department of Defense for numerous projects.
The key players in the global solar-powered UAV market are Airbus, AeroVironment, Alphabet, Lockheed Martin, Facebook, Thales, AC Propulsion, Silent Falcon UAS, Boeing, DJI, Sunlight Photonics, and Barnard Microsystems among others.