Drones set for $1bn market by 2018, predicts economist

Jon McBride

Drones; they’re everywhere. They’re used in military operations; to shoot pornfilms; to take beautiful photographs. They form the basis of think pieces and breathless reviews of consumer models, available to buy from as little as £90.

And according to the US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), an umbrella group which connects 2,000 tech companies, they are here to stay – a developing global market that will be worth an estimated $1bn by 2018.

That’s an increase on the prediction for 2015, which is a market estimate of $130m, and 425,000 units sold.

CEA’s chief economist, Shawn DuBravac, speaking at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, said around 100 different types of drone could debut this year.

The boom in consumer owned toy drones has led to discussions around legislation around the devices. In America, the Federal Aviation Administration is already considering tightening laws to limit commercial drone use.

Dubravac also spoke about other potential directions for tech in the coming year.

“We are shifting from what something we could do technologically to what is technologically meaningful,” he said in a preliminary press briefing.

Other predictions for 2015 include: an increase in virtual reality products, a widening of Netflix’s output and the expansion of 3D printing.