It’s probably no surprise that Chinese drone manufacturer DJI dominates the market in multicopters (and more specifically quadcopters, meaning drones with four rotors).
But who makes the most popular fixed-wing drone in America? That award goes to senseFly, which makes the eBee fixed-wing drone.
senseFly drones (largely the eBee) accounted for 45% of all new commercial, fixed-wing drone registrations in the United States during the period spanning January through September 2018, according to Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 commercial drone registration data. In that period, registrations of the senseFly eBee are 29% ahead of the next fixed-wing provider on the list. The next most popular dronemaker behind senseFly is Aerovironment.
SenseFly was founded in 2009 to develop and produce aerial imaging drones primarily for surveying, agriculture, GIS, industrial inspection, mining and humanitarian aid. The company was acquired by Parrot, maker of the Bebop drone, in 2012 for an undisclosed amount. The company’s eBee drone primarily targets mapping clients, capable of land surveying and topographic mapping to urban planning, crop mapping, thermal mapping and environmental monitoring.
Of course, fixed-wing drones account for just a tiny portion of the whole drone industry. While senseFly may have a huge market share of fixed wing drones, their drones represented just a 1% overall market share, according to the 2018 Drone Market Sector Report by Skylogic Research. To put that into perspective, DJI now has an estimated 74% market share.
But Gilles Labossière, CEO of senseFly, is convinced that trend could change. “What we see is that industrial users are increasingly understanding the efficiency benefits a fixed-wing solution can bring over other sUAS platforms, such as quadcopters,” he said. “A fixed-wing drone’s greater endurance enables operators to complete medium- and larger-sized projects faster than a rotary drone. This helps to reduce in-field labour costs at a project level, and it enables operators to complete, and bill, more projects each week.”
senseFly’s parent company, Parrot, also makes the Parrot Disco fixed-wing drone.