July 17, 2019 / 7:59 PM / 2 months ago

Global drone market estimated to reach $14 bln over next decade -study

WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) - The worldwide non-military drone market, dominated by manufacturers in China, will triple in size to $14.3 billion in sales over the next decade, a study said on Wednesday, even as U.S. officials warn of national security risks.

The market, estimated at $4.9 billion this year, will benefit from a gradual opening of U.S. airspace by the Federal Aviation Administration and increased use by commercial industries, according to the study by aerospace analysis company Teal Group.

The report comes amid increased security concerns from the United States and private U.S. companies that Beijing could access sensitive data and footage collected by Chinese-made drones.

Chinese manufacturers supply three-quarters of the world commercial and consumer markets by unit, said Phil Finnegan, a Teal Group analyst who authored the study.

In May the Department of Homeland Security warned U.S. firms of the risks to company data from Chinese-made drones, according to a notice reviewed by Reuters.

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, which is at the center of the criticism, was not immediately available for comment but said in a letter to a Senate subcommittee last month that security concerns about its products are “simply wrong” and that DJI customers have “full control of their data.”

The leading market segment for drones, the study said, is industrial inspection, which includes industries such as construction, energy and mining. They use drones to survey sites and transmission lines, among other things. Use in agriculture, for spraying crops and analyzing fields, ranks second, it said.

The U.S. Army in 2017 stopped its usage of DJI drones. The Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision to block the Defense Department from using Chinese drones.

Cape, a California-based company that sells drone software to various law enforcement agencies, said on Wednesday that it will “cease all integration” with DJI and other Chinese drone makers. (Reporting by Bryan Pietsch; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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