‘We’re still discovering how to use them’: Drones and the $145 billion market opportunity
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Ignore, for a moment, the images that come to mind when we say the word drone. Forget about the bloke that used a drone to pick up a snag in bread from Bunnings, kids flying drones in the backyard for fun, or my mate who bought a $400 drone that had homing software but flew off on him anyway, never to be seen again.
It’s the commercial and industrial applications of drones that make the things such a hot commodity: a 2016 report from Goldman Sachs estimated the market for drones would hit $145 billion by 2020.
And one expert, Martin Duriska from Red Leaf Securities, says we’ve not even considered all the ways that a drone might be used.
>> Scroll down for a list of ASX drone stocks.
“We’re still discovering how and where they can be used,” he told Stockhead. “I am very bullish on drones for the longer term.”
Stockhead wrote last year about four reasons why drones are ready to take off, addressing concerns with autonomy, security, swarms and coverage. But with the technology advancing all the time, we may not have even scratched the surface.
What started out small — using drones to take aerial shots of real estate — is now progressing at a rapid rate, Duriska says.
“That sort of thing is now stock standard,” he says. “It is now commonplace in bigger industries. In mining, they have been a revelation, able to survey open cut mine walls or go into dangerous underground situations so that we aren’t risking human life.
“We’re seeing it used by farmers, in delivery, on oil rigs, in war zones, the possibilities are endless and it is only going to keep growing.”
Duriska is particularly bullish about Mobilicom (ASX:MOB), which makes communications equipment for drones and robotics. The company is actively making money across the globe, including Asia, Europe and the United States.
Oren Elkayam, Mobilicom’s chief, believes the industry has matured.
“In the recent three to four years, the industry has been busy developing technologies that would overcome the barriers that enable the deployment of drones,” he told Stockhead.
“Regulatory bodies now have enough confidence in deploying drones, that we will see it start to pay off for companies like ours which operate in the drone space.”
“Mobilicom is positioned very well,” Duriska says. “They have a vast range of hardware products and they can get a big portion of the drone pie because of that.”
Duriska says discussions with drone manufacturers have revealed that the small cap company is held in high regard.
It is working with some big names, such as airline making giant Airbus and Chinese aircraft manufacturer Yuneec, which sells more than one million units annually and is part owned by tech behemoth Intel.
The ASX has three other drone companies:
ParaZero (ASX:PRZ), which makes the SafeAir system that helps ensure drones always land safely using a variety of measures such as cutting power to the motors, deploying a patented ballistic parachute, and an audio warning buzzer;
and Department 13 (ASX:D13), which makes MESMER, which is able to detect, identify and assume control of unauthorised drones in a defined airspace. The MESMER solution can be deployed in a mobile or fixed location.