The ecosystem that's emerged around the collection and analysis of data from drones is growing very quickly, according to a new report issued by DroneDeploy, one of the companies operating in the space. According to DroneDeploy's "2018 Commercial Drone Industry Trends" report, more than 2,000 developers have signed up with the company to offer applications through its App Market, an online marketplace for drone-related software offered by companies such as Esri, Procore, and John Deere. Only about 80 apps are on offer from the App Market today, but the number is growing quickly. According to DroneDeploy, more than 120,000 applications have been downloaded from the App Market, and in the past 12 months there has been a 445% increase in downloads. This has corresponded with a general surge in drone usage during the same time.
Drone companies saw a record number of deals last year. On a quarterly basis, Q1'17 was the most active quarter historically for deals, reaching 32 investments worth $113M. Within the space, terrestrial imagery, infrastructure inspection, and delivery have emerged as some of the primary use cases for drone technology. Using CB Insights data, we identified over 70 leading private companies in the drones space and categorized them into the twelve main categories in which they operate. We define drones broadly to include software and hardware companies developing technologies related to unmanned aerial, marine, and/or land vehicles designed for unstructured environments.
Our series on drones, known formally as "unmanned aircraft systems" or "UAS," addresses the growing use of drones in numerous industries across the United States. Many sectors in the United States have embraced drones due to their ability to significantly reduce costs, execute a variety of tasks traditionally performed by human labor, access places that humans and larger aircraft are incapable of reaching and provide enhanced reliability and accuracy of data. Furthermore, commercial drone use in the U.S. is expected to become more prevalent as federal government decision-makers and industry stakeholders work together to encourage drone use in commercial operations and to foster the integration of drones into the nation's airspace. Here's the fifth installment of our series, which focuses on the rapidly increasing integration of drones into the insurance and real estate industries. The insurance industry increasingly is relying on drones to identify and assess risks, as evidenced by the fact that insurance companies employ 17% of all commercial drones.