Drone Services: The Top Companies in 2023

Ed Alvarado
October 24, 2023
5 min. read

The global drone industry is dominated by drone services. This means that the industry is driven by the actual use of drones rather than the building of drone hardware or the programming of drone software. These services include everything from drone inspections and mapping to drone deliveries or a plethora of other applications. And there are thousands of companies around the world focused on providing these services.

 

Each year, we revise our ranking of the global leaders in drone services by splitting them into two categories: remote sensing and delivery. The ranking focuses on companies that offer flight services directly rather than training or engineering for these types of services. As always, companies are evaluated based on three criteria: company size and development (growth), public interest (media coverage), and financial data (where available).

drone service companies ranking 2023 infographic

Originally published: October 2023

Top 5 Companies: Remote Sensing Drone Services

Remote Sensing Drone Service Providers are companies which use drones to acquire information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object. In other words, they photograph, scan, map, or inspect an object without touching it. Typical outcomes for these drone services are aerial images, orthophotos, point-clouds, live-views, thermal imagery or multi-/hyperspectral imagery.

 

In 2023, the top 5 ranking in remote sensing remains the same, with the Malaysian Aerodyne leading in the top spot. The company made a strategic alliance with Aiviewgroup (Italy) in February 2023, opening access to EU market. The second place is once again occupied by the drone service provider TerraDrone (Japan), who this year has acquired majority shares of air navigation provider Unifly as well as acquired spraying and mapping drone company Avirtech. Rounding out the top 3 comes Cyberhawk (UK). In addition to hiring more employees, Cyberhawk teamed with Intelligent Energy to launch BVLOS operations using hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Biggest Movers and Top Countries for Remote Sensing

Despite the fact that the top 5 ranking is unchanged, there was nevertheless plenty of movement throughout the ranking of the top companies for remote sensing drone services. Within the top 20 ranking, more than half (11) companies moved positions since last year. It is worth highlighting here that a new company swooping into the top 5 could have meant that all other companies shifted one place down. However, this was not the case, meaning that some companies still managed to climb their relative position even if they remain in the same ranking as last year.

 

Among the companies with the biggest moves, Garuda Aerospace (India) made the biggest climb, improving +24 spots from 2022 and entering into the top 10. Other companies that made big leaps were Aereo (India, +15), RocketDNA (Australia, +14), and SkySpecs (USA, +12). As in previous years, the ranking is dominated by the United States, but there are nevertheless companies offering their drone services from India (3), Australia (2), Japan (2), Malaysia (2), Norway (2), France, UK, Switzerland, and Canada.

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Report | Drone Service Providers Ranking 2023

• Full 47-page report of the best companies for drone services in two categories.
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Top 5 Companies: Delivery Drone Services

Delivery Drone Service Providers are companies which use drones to dispatch objects. There are four primary types of goods that commercial drones can currently deliver – food, medical goods, retail goods and industrial materials. Each of these has very different technical, social acceptance and legislative hurdles to overcome in order for drone deliveries to become common.

 

Similar to remote sensing, the ranking of drone delivery companies is largely unchanged. In this case however, Zipline has lost ground on its dominance of the market, while Swoop Aero has managed to enter the top 5 ranking, overtaking Manna. Thereby making the ranking as follows: 1. Zipline (USA), 2. Wing (USA), 3. Matternet (USA), 4. Swoop Aero (Australia), 5. Manna (Ireland).

Biggest Movers and Top Countries for Drone Delivery

The remaining top 20 for delivery drone services saw more activity, with a total of 14 companies that moved positions in comparison to last year’s rankings. The companies with the biggest improvement in rank were Spright (USA, +9), UPS Flight Forward (USA, +6), Pablo Air (Korea, +5) and FlyingBasket (Italy, +5).

 

The United States is the country with the most drone delivery companies in the top 20 ranking, with a total of 9. It is worth stressing that even though these companies are based in the United States, their primary places of operation are often elsewhere such as Rwanda, Australia, Finland, Ghana and others. Beyond the USA, the remainder of the top 20 is represented by a much more diverse dozen of companies from places such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and the UK.

Conclusion: Myths about Drone Service Providers

It is worth noting that there are some misconceptions about DSPs in general. First, the belief that drones primarily aim at cost and time savings doesn’t tell the whole story. Recent data from the Drone Industry Survey reveals a growing demand for complex, result-driven applications, despite higher regulatory and data processing costs. Clients see the value in digitized data, such as computer vision-based inventories and 3D models.

Secondly, the myth that DSPs struggle to generate revenue isn’t entirely accurate. While challenges like evolving regulations exist, the State of Drones report indicates that the average DSP increased their income in the past year, with the leading DSPs also corroborating this trend.

 

Lastly, the idea that DSPs might face consolidation due to higher automation contradicts the data. Specialized DSPs focusing on complex applications, such as Field, Cyberhawk, NordicUnmanned, or EMSA, are thriving. Niche suppliers are gaining market share, emphasizing the growing demand for intricate drone services, while off-the-shelf drone manufacturers are losing ground.

 

These myths shed light on the evolving landscape of DSPs and their crucial role in delivering value to clients. Although this year’s top spots did not substantially change from last year, there was still plenty of activity within the top 20 of both lists. Moreover, the stability within the top ranks supports the idea that perhaps these top players have indeed found a way to market to and maximize profit from their particular niche.

top drone service companies infographic 2023 infographic download

Download our FREE Top Drone Service Companies Infographic

This infographic includes the best companies for drone services, broken down into the 5 best companies for drone delivery as well as the 5 best companies for remote sensing

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