One of the best ways to benchmark the global drone industry is to assess the companies who operate drones and find the best companies for drone services. Scaling drone operation can be extremely hard (depending on the local preconditions), and yet operating drones at scale, while complying with local regulation, allows drone service providers to grow their business. So, to rank the best drone service companies in the world, we used the size, growth and public attention as reference to determine companies’ performance. The ranking is split into the 5 best remote sensing companies and the 5 best companies for drone delivery.
Originally published: November 2022
Role of the US: Perhaps not surprisingly, USA-based companies dominate both rankings, with a whopping 8 companies in the top 20 for drone delivery (including all the top 3). However, many of the best companies for drone delivery don’t primarily operate in the United States. Furthermore, the best companies for remote sensing only feature 5 American companies in the top 20. So despite being a majority in the overall rankings, the role of the US in terms of operation and influence is not as large as it may initially appear.
Big Tech/Corporations: Despite the interest shown by large corporations such as Amazon, UPS, or major airlines, only one company in the top 5 drone delivery companies is backed by big tech (Wing, subsidiary of Google’s Alphabet). This is an encouraging sign for the growth of the drone industry on its own and not as a secondary venture by large corporations investing in risky and unproven technologies.
Industry focus: As may be expected, almost all of the top 20 remote sensing companies prioritize and are active in the Energy Industry (utilities). This is not only a major industry in terms of the importance of utilities and the money involved, but also in the way that drone technology provides unique improvements to efficiency, safety and savings of both time and money.
The ranking for the best delivery drone services remains unchanged at the top 4. Zipline, Wing, Matternet and Manna Aero continue to make headlines and dominate the market. In terms of employees, top-ranked Zipline has 3 times more employees than second-place Wing. This growth has been largely boosted by the US$481M in investment that Zipline has received in the 8 investment deals since its inception. In short, despite strong and steady growth by other major players, Zipline is the undisputed leader in the drone delivery services market.
A few other interesting observations can be made within the top 4 best drone service companies for delivery. Second-place Wing and Matternet have only a 1% gap in the ranking index, meaning that the difference is almost negligible. Meanwhile, #4 Manna Aero has doubled its employees from last year, as they are scaling up drone operation.
In summary, the ranking of best companies for drone delivery can be broken down into 4 segments: the top 4, followed by strong competition for spots 5-9, very close race between 10-14, and a very dynamic landscape beyond that. There are eight (8) new companies who have entered the top 20. Many come from the US, but also from countries like Japan, South Korea, Norway and Sweden. All of this shows that the industry is not yet consolidated despite some strong market leaders. Moreover, this diversity in location will hopefully enable scaling all around the globe rather than drone deliveries being focused only on specific regions.
In terms of the best drone service companies for remote sensing, the top 3 ranking also remains unchanged with Aerodyne, Terra Drone and Cyberhawk at the top of the chart. In this category, the number one company Aerodyne also doubles the number of employees of second-place Terra Drone, which itself has accumulated US$85M of investment in 5 deals since its inception in 2016. Therefore, the gap between the top two companies is much smaller than it is with drone delivery.
This pattern also continues in the remainder of the ranking, where the competition is much tighter, and four companies managed to enter the top 10. Overall, seven (7) new companies entered the top 20, coming from various countries including Norway, Switzerland, Finland, and Canada. The Norwegian Nordic Unmanned saw the highest climb within the rankings, doubling its number of employees and increasing its rank by 5 spots to reach the top 5 into place 4.
In comparison to the best companies for drone delivery, the top remote sensing companies ranking can be broken down into a very competitive top 7, and an extremely-close environment in the rest of the top 20. In other words, there are a lot of great companies doing very good work with drones and revolutionizing how inspections and surveying (among other tasks) are carried out around the globe.
The Drone Service Providers Ranking is an assessment of roughly 850 global companies whose core business is to offer drone services to third parties (meaning this excludes companies who operate drones internally). The report also comes with a comprehensive database of 800+ [unranked] companies, including company information such as website, headquarters location and Linkedin page. Although some of the top companies have stayed the same in the past couple of years, we update the data each and every year, and there is a lot of activity happening throughout the rankings beyond the top spots.
The rankings strive for objective and verifiable data, and we are happy to hear from all companies that want to help us update the data for next year’s ranking of the best companies for drone services around the globe.
Esteban Zanelli is a market research and data analyst with experience in quantitative and qualitative research.