Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 - 2026)
The Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) market is estimated to register a CAGR of over 12.8% during the forecast period (2021 - 2026).
Though the global military spending has increased by 2.6% to reach USD 1981 billion in 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the ongoing global economic slowdown is anticipated to result in a subsequent decline in defense spending on a short-term basis during the forecast period, which can ultimately impact the flow of investments into the emerging UGV industry.
There is a growing use of UGVs to carry counter-insurgency and combat operations. This is primarily to reduce human casualties in such situations. UGVs are also being used in various missions to enhance military situational awareness in urban warfare, in conjunction with UAVs. The demand for UGVs is also increasing for civil and commercial applications, such as in the oil and gas sector, airports, law enforcement, firefighting, and agriculture, among others.
Several countries are significantly spending on the R&D of unmanned ground systems to overcome the challenges that are associated with the manned systems. Standardisation, reliability of the systems and the requirement for reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) are some of the prominent challenges for the manufacturers of UGVs.
Military Segment Held the Largest Market Share in 2020
In recent times, several countries have begun to invest heavily in autonomous military systems. Though the focus had been largely on unmanned aerial vehicles, the investments in the development of UGVs have also grown in recent times. In February 2021, the Russian military announced that it has completed the development of a functioning prototype of the latest Udar Unmanned Combat Ground Vehicle which can operate on different terrains. The Udar robotic vehicle is a multi-purpose robotic platform that can be customized with an array of weapons and equipment based on its tactical objective. Russia's Military Industry Committee has an objective of deploying 30% of Russia's kinetic weapons on remote-control platforms by 2025. The growing advantages of the UGVs are propelling the armed forces of several countries to procure and deploy them for various missions. In May 2021, Rheinmetall announced that it has received an order for four more MISSION MASTER UGVs equipped with a fire support module, under the second phase (Spiral 2) of the Robotic Platoon Vehicle (RPV) program of the United Kingdom. UGVs have been successfully deployed for missions related to clearing mines and IEDs. Also, the role of UGVs is shifting toward addressing chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) threats. Advancements in UGV capabilities and miniaturization of these vehicles are expected to support the growth of UGVs in the military segment in the coming years. At the current state of development, the UGVs are primarily acting as complementary entities to the manned systems. However, UGVs are expected to perform mainstream roles in the future military warfare, primarily due to the growing reliability and effectiveness of these vehicles, which is expected to drive the growth of the segment in the coming future.
North America is Expected to Dominate the Market During the Forecast Period
North America held the largest market share in 2020, and the region is also expected to exhibit the highest growth rate during the forecast period. The United States is currently the largest market for UGVs in the world. The US military is actively procuring a large number of UGVs for its forces. In May 2021, FLIR Systems, Inc. announced that it has received more than USD 70 million in new orders for its Centaur robots from the U.S. Armed Services. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps placed orders for nearly 600 FLIR Centaur robots, including additional spares, antennas, and payload mounting kits. UGVs are being developed for several end-users in the country. In March 2021, the U.S. Air Force has successfully integrated quad-legged Unmanned Ground Vehicles, known popularly as robot dogs, for patrolling at the Tyndall Air Base. Such technologies are expected to be adopted in civilian airports to secure facilities and protect travelers in the future. Unmanned ground vehicles are also deployed to transport suspicious packages from the airport cargo and checked baggage area to a designated disposal area away from flight operations and the passenger terminal at Kelowna International Airport in British Columbia, Canada. Canadian Armed Forces are also procuring new-generation UGVs. In September 2019, ECA GROUP announced that it has received a contract to supply the Canadian Department of National defence and the Canadian Armed Forces with nine CAMELEON LG unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and 4 as an option. Such developments are expected to bolster the prospects of the market in North America during the forecast period.
The market is highly fragmented with several regional and global players accounting for fragments of market shares. Some of the prominent players in the market are Teledyne FLIR LLC, General Dynamics Corporation, Rheinmetall AG, QinetiQ, and Milrem AS. Most of the UGV procurements and developments involve local players in developing countries. To gain technological expertise, some smaller local companies are also entering into partnerships with global players. In a relatively new market like the UGV market, the number of start-ups and smaller companies with unique technological capabilities is high. In this regard, mergers and acquisitions are also expected to help players to develop their capabilities. In 2019, FLIR completed the acquisition of Endeavor Robotics for USD 385 million. Later, in May 2021, Teledyne Technologies announced the successful completion of the acquisition of FLIR Systems. Such acquisitions will help the companies in capturing a new product portfolio as well as in improving their share in the market. In addition to this, product innovation will also play a vital role in the success of the players, as the capabilities and the applications of the UGVs are constantly increasing.