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Aerial photography industry expected to grow despite drone regulations

Drone technology is expected to boost the aerial photography industry by 12.9 percent over the next six years, according to market research. The same research, however, indicates that growth is restricted by government regulations. Based on its recent study, Allied Market Research estimates that aerial imaging will be a $2.8 billion industry worldwide by 2022.

The study attributes the industry’s growth to technology including drones, 360 cameras and 3D-mapping software. The research group suggests the 12.9-percent anticipated growth is being restricted by government regulations, however. The U.S. recently adapted new commercial drone regulations that require pilots to pass a test before flying, for example, among other limitations.

Related: What aerial photographers need to know about FAA’s new drone laws 

Ironically, the study also shows that the government sector took up the biggest piece of that industry in 2015 and will continue to grow by about 10.9 percent annually. New ways to use aerial imaging in homeland security, environmental studies, urban planning, and disaster management have led to the government’s large footprint in the sector, the study suggests.

While government took up the biggest chunk of the industry last year, the energy segment will grow the fastest, the research group says, with a 14.4 percent growth rate over the same six-year period. Energy companies are finding additional ways to use aerial videography with drones to inspect transmission lines, gather data for new wind and solar farms, and provide security for existing power plants.

North America currently holds the biggest share of that market, and will continue to hold that spot for the next six years. The study’s authors said that, while the projected rates will keep North America responsible for a majority of that market, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow the fastest. “Asia-Pacific is projected to be the fastest growing aerial imaging market during the forecast period due to the increase in economic growth, rapid industrialization, and growth in number of natural disasters such as landslides, earthquakes, and floods in countries such as India, China, Japan, Singapore, and others,” said Pankaj Lanjudar, Allied Market Research’s lead analyst for the media division.

While the study took into account a variety of different types of aerial imaging, including media and entertainment, geospatial mapping is expected to bring in the most revenue over the next six years. The growth of aerial imaging in advertising, cinema, and commercial photography, along with the use of drone video for habitat distribution and power line management, will boost the expected revenue for commercial aerial videographers by about 14 percent annually.