The rising demand for autonomous systems in the defense and commercial sectors, as well as the growing use of robotics in areas affected by chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks, are driving the procurement of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). Essentially, the rising need for security and modernization of systems used in unmanned vehicles and the operational cost reduction these platforms offer by not requiring the intervention of operators, are the major drivers boosting the demand for UGVs. Due to all these factors, the global unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) market was valued at ~$3 billion in 2020.
The pandemic of COVID-19 has had a huge effect on the demand for UGVs. The lockdowns and social distancing measures have had a detrimental effect on end-use markets, with 2020 UGV orders and deliveries having declined significantly. The non-availability of resources and shutdown of factories led to low or no production and sales. However, the demand for UGVs has resurged after the resumption of manufacturing operations, lifting of lockdowns, and streamlining of imports and exports, with a gradual improvement d.
The market for unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) is categorized into commercial, military, law enforcement, and federal law enforcement, based on application, Among these, the federal law enforcement category is projected to have the highest CAGR in the unmanned ground vehicles market during the forecast period. Various federal law enforcement agencies use UGVs for defense, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).
Further, the UGVs market is categorized into autonomous, teleoperated, and tethered, based on mode of operation. During the forecast period, autonomous is expected to emerge as the fastest-growing category in the global UGVs market. This can be attributed to the self-sufficiency enabled by the autonomous mode, which enables UGVs to complete tasks and operations without the need for humans.
Geographically, North America was the largest contributor to the unmanned ground vehicles market in 2020. The U.S. is one of the largest producers, consumers, and exporters of military systems in the world, therefore is the major unmanned ground vehicles market in North America. It and Canada are awarding a variety of contracts for the delivery of combat-capable UGVs, which is boosting the region's UGVs market’s development. For instance, the U.S. has deployed a number of unmanned systems along the Mexican border to ensure that gang-related violence and conflicts are handled without collateral damage.
Some of the major players operating in the unmanned ground vehicles market are Qinetiq, Oshkosh Defense, Lockheed Martin Corporation, iRobot Corporation, FLIR, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and BAE Systems.
In recent years, players in the industry have been actively involved in the production of advanced UGVs. For instance, in June 2020, BAE Systems was awarded a contract by Lockheed Martin, to provide key autonomy and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of tactical robotic air and land vehicles and establishing a greater collaboration between ground warfighters and machines at the small-unit level.
Similarly, in March 2020, HORIBA MIRA secured a $3.25-million contract to supply VIKING autonomous UGVs to the U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).