Thank you for your article,
As you pointed out in your article drones need to provide a real improvement for the business to enterprises so that they gain a real ROI of using drones.
Heavy weight Drones from 10kg to few thousand kilograms, will need real avionics for unmanned air cargo (UAC) applications, for example. Then prices will be more the range of few hundred thousands or millions (but still way less than helicopters) and operated by professional companies and ground-based-pilots. The business model of drones for UAC will probably need a team of pilots (3 or 5) handling a fleet of 10 to 30 drones at a time — so that it is economically viable and provide a ROI for the asset managers. Obviously, you are right, as you pointed out for small UAV the regulator will have to provide a framework and infrastructure will have to be setup.
On industrial applications, like Construction sites, O&G or Power sites, using heavy flying robotics (hundreds of kilograms) allow for brand new application when you can have a stable aerial platform with payload from few tenth of kilograms to 2 000kg. It can be used on construction site as air-cranes, or printing buildings, and also for doing robotic maintenance for Oil&Gas or chemicals for example. Again pricing will be high but the improvement in profitability will be very high as well and will improve safety.
Currently there are about 500 drones manufacturers registered worldwide at AUVSI hence the market of small UAV at $1.5b would give a rough $3m per companies…A simplistic view, I admit, but based on facts. It is then likely there will be issues on the small UAV market sooner or later, especially with some companies having valuation in the range of $10b (5 to 10 the market valuation…).
In comparison, it is expected that Heavy drones with weight from hundreds to thousands of kilograms will move the drone business from the ‘sensor’ market to the ‘do-real’ industrial work with high ROI and this is vastly more than few billion a year as we speak of construction equipment, cranes, handlers, and logistic trucks, delivery vans, tractors, etc..… aggregated these markets are in the range of $500b to $1T a year. This is a real Eldorado for the development of a brand new industry renewing old fashioned polluting equipment.
As well, it may help countries with creating transport infrastructure without roads or railways. This would be tremendous for some struggling developing countries and/or during disasters.