VTOL fixed-wing UAV industry in-depth research report(three)


3. Civilian UAV: ​​Industrial grade becomes the new engine, vertical take-off and landing accelerate the commercialization of urban traffic

3.1 In 2020, the global civilian drone market will gradually shift from C to B

 

Civil drones are divided into consumer drones and industrial drones.

1) Consumer drones are mainly used for aerial photography and entertainment, focusing on shooting functions and operability.

2) Industrial UAVs focus on economic benefits, pursue a balance of performance such as cruise speed and endurance, and have high requirements for UAVs' professional application. By carrying different task loads, such as thermal infrared cameras, hyperspectral cameras, lidars, photoelectric pods, etc. It is mainly used in surveying and mapping and geographic information, patrol inspection, security monitoring, emergency, and other fields.

The growth rate of consumer drones in 2020-2024 will be weak, and industrial drones will become the new engine of global civilian drones, and the market will gradually shift from C to B. According to Frost & Sullivan's forecast, the CAGR of the global civilian drone market from 2020 to 2024 is as high as 43.03%, and the market size is expected to reach 415.727 billion yuan in 2024. With the continuous expansion of application scenarios, global industrial drones have achieved rapid development. In 2020, the industrial drone market will likely surpass consumer drones for the first time and become the world's leading market for civilian drones.
The CAGR of global consumer drones will decline in 2020-2024, from 24.09% in 2015-2019 to 20.00%, while industrial drones will maintain a high growth rate during the same period, increasing from 50.62% in 2015-2019 To 56.43%.

China is the primary market for civilian drones globally, and China's industrial drone market will exceed consumer drones for the first time in 2021. In 2020, China's civil drone market scale was 59.905 billion yuan, accounting for 60.30% of the global civil drone market, and it is a worldwide leader. From the perspective of market structure, Chinese consumer drone market will be 32.583 billion yuan in 2020, accounting for 54.39%; the industrial drone market will be 27.321 billion yuan 45.61%. From 2021 to 2024, industrial drones will occupy the primary market for civil drones in China, and the market share will increase rapidly from 55.01% to 72.65%. During the same period, Chinese industrial UAV CAGR maintained a high growth rate of 53.27%, becoming a new engine for developing Chinese civilian UAVs.

3.2 Vertical take-off and landing: new configuration expands new application scenarios in the industry

3.2.1 Vertical take-off and landing: accelerating the commercialization of urban air traffic (UAM)

 

Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drones with excellent hovering ability, long cruising speed, and range contain colossal market demand. Today, drones have put forward higher requirements in terms of hovering time, cruising speed, content, and take-off and landing sites, and multi-rotor, helicopter, and fixed-wing UAVs cannot meet this multi-directional demand at the same time. Multi-rotor UAVs are subject to short endurance and short-range; uncrewed helicopters are more expensive to build and have more significant flight control difficulties, while fixed-wing UAVs have higher requirements for take-off landing sites and generally require runways. Vertical take-off and landing UAVs have attracted market attention due to their excellent hovering capabilities and long cruising speed and range. The composite vertical take-off and landing drone (VTOL) and the vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing UAV have their respective focuses: the composite VTOL focuses on hovering time, and the vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing drone have more advantages in range.

eVTOL opens up a new application scenario for urban air transportation (UAM), and capital helps to emerge eVTOL companies to accelerate the commercialization of UAM. According to the definition in "Urban Air Traffic Airspace Integration Concepts and Considerations" issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, "Urban Air Traffic (UAM)" is "a safe and efficient transportation operation applicable to human-crewed aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle systems in cities." the way." At present, the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with excellent hovering ability, long cruising speed and range, and low noise is sought after by capital such as Tencent. Also, major companies such as Airbus and Boeing and emerging companies such as Lilium, Volocoper, and Kitty Hawk are all building their electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft for urban air transportation. The commercialization of eVTOL has to go through seven stages: design, announcement, verification test, full-scale test, manned test, production, and commercial promotion. China EHang is one of the few eVTOL companies globally that has achieved mass production and sales.

In addition to emerging companies, traditional car companies have also stepped up their deployment in eVTOL. In recent years, Geely, Toyota, Xiaopeng, Hyundai, Chrysler, and many other auto companies have acquired layouts and have successively launched their prototypes. Among them, Geely Auto's Geely TF-2A released in June 2020 can achieve 180km/h. h flight speed and maximum flight mileage of 100 kilometers. At the 2020 CES show, automobile giants such as Hyundai and Chrysler also displayed concept products for vertical lift cars.

3.2.2 Status of UAM: Chinese policies are insufficient, but the technology is profound, and the world's first operated drone

 

Policies and technologies drive the civilian UAV industry. Chinese UAM industrial policy is relatively inadequate but has profound technologies. In terms of policy, my government has long established the drone industry as a national strategy. But for the emerging urban air traffic UAM industry, China has not yet formulated a UAM industry plan at the national level. In terms of technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China has already made judgments on the standard technical needs of various civil use fields. After years of development, a robust drone industry supply chain has been built in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong. Shenzhen has become a leader in China's story and the world's civilian drone industry, laying a solid foundation for Chinese drone-related technologies.

Policy: Japan and South Korea take the lead in the top-level design of the UAM industry, while China is slightly behind

Chinese drone industry has risen to a national strategy, and the industry's high-growth pattern has long been established. In the "Twelfth Five-Year Plan for the Development of National Strategic Emerging Industries" and the "Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for the Development of National Strategic Emerging Industries", the drone industry is included in the national strategic high-tech industry positioning and national economic strategy Status to give long-term and stable support. The "Internet +" Artificial Intelligence Three-year Action Implementation Plan" is the country's first important support policy for the drone industry, which means that the industry's development has risen to a national strategy, and the industry's high-growth pattern has been established.

For the UAM industry of urban air transportation, Japan and South Korea will raise it to the national level in 2020, clarifying the critical time nodes. In contrast, China has not yet formulated a development plan at the top level. At the 40th "Future Investment Conference" of the Japanese Cabinet, Japan's "Growth Strategy Follow-up Plan" was passed. This vital plan is equivalent to the "Ten Year Plan" of Japan's national economy and will guide the Japanese government's industrial policy formulation in the next ten years. And the direction of government investment, and set overall development goals for the various fields of Japan's national economy from 2021 to 2030. For the first time, a strategic plan for drones and "flying cars" was formulated at the national level. Coincidentally, in June 2020, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) of South Korea released the Urban Air Transport (UAM) plan, becoming the second country to formulate UAM industrial policy plans at the national level.

Although Chinese UAM industry's top-level design is insufficient, it is also accelerating the promotion of related legislative work. On January 21, 2019, at the opening ceremony of the seminar on key provincial and ministerial-level leaders who adhere to bottom-line thinking and focus on preventing and resolving significant risks, it was necessary to accelerate the construction of a scientific and technological safety early warning and monitoring system, focusing on drones, service robots, In areas such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence, we will accelerate the advancement of relevant legislation. On January 23, the Civil Aviation Administration issued the "Guiding Opinions on the Airworthiness Certification of UAVs Based on Operational Risks", clarifying that the airworthiness management system for UAVs based on operational risks will be initially established by the end of 2019. Human-machine companies set up airworthiness certification pilots, focusing on exploring airworthiness standards and certification methods for cargo drones, line-patrolling drones, and manned drones. On October 28, 2020, the Civil Aviation Administration of China announced the first batch of 13 civil unmanned aviation test bases (test areas) to accelerate China's civil unmanned aviation industry and maintain its international leadership.

Technology: Chinese UAV technology is the world's leading, the first to release a manned UAV

In terms of UAV technology, China has already made legal technology demand judgments in various civilian fields, which has laid a solid technical foundation for Chinese UAM industry.

In the "Roadmap for the Development of Civil UAV Systems" of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the standard technologies are elaborated in detail:

1)Body: Lightweight body structure, optimized aerodynamic performance design. The development of material technology has gradually applied new lightweight materials and innovative materials to creating aircraft structures, making the structure lightweight, and variable systems have application prospects and providing a foundation for improving flight performance and load capacity. Simultaneously, crush resistance, survivability in harsh environments, the openness of the structure, and maintainability of the field are significant for civilian UAVs. The suitability and survivability of resisting severe weather conditions, coping with complex application scenarios, and terrain take-off and landing conditions are standard requirements of civil humans and machines.

2) Power system: The core of the UAV system requires a device design with high efficiency, high reliability, and simple control. Due to the heavier task load of the UAV and the long-range required, there is a greater demand for power extraction. To meet the endurance requirements, the power plant can increase power and reduce engine weight while maintaining the power supply of onboard equipment; or adopting a low fuel consumption design. Simultaneously, relying on the backup design and multiple margin design of critical systems can improve the power plant's reliability to ensure flight safety and the smooth progress of the mission. To facilitate debugging and easy use and maintenance, the power plant's design and the electrical and communication interfaces of the UAV also need to be as simple as possible.

3) Control and navigation: Intelligent autonomy is one of UAV technology's development directions and trends. The intelligent robot system facing future informatization needs has the characteristics of intellectual independence embodied in the intuitive perception and understanding of the environment, threat avoidance, autonomous planning and decision-making, autonomous motion control, and autonomous task execution. Environmental perception and understanding are the basis for realizing independent power, and autonomous behavior decision-making and planning technology is the core of learning autonomous behavior.

4) Data transmission system: To realize the close integration of man and machine, it is necessary to rely on data link technology and ground control station to establish a real-time and efficient image and data transmission system. The data link needs to have anti-interception and anti-jamming capabilities and send back the monitored target image in real-time so that the command center can monitor the scene in time; at the same time, the data link must also record flight data and complete automatic return when the remote control signal is lost. As a human-machine interface, the ground control station mainly realizes the aircraft's control, mission control, load data analysis, system maintenance, etc. It is related to the flight safety of the UAV. Therefore, we need a stable, reliable, real-time, and efficient data transmission mechanism to meet the needs of real-time communication of massive data, and at the same time, ensure that the flight data is intuitive and easy to operate.

Reducing costs and focusing on practicability are essential characteristics of developing Chinese civil drone industry. The civilian UAV industry will adopt the "government guidance and social main business" as the primary model, forming a diversified operation mode with production enterprises and general aviation enterprises as the main body, and gradually build the domestic UAV application industry chain. According to the "Civil Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System Development Roadmap", industrial system collaboration, consumer product personalization, industry application specialization, R&D and upgrading intelligence, and operational service precision are the primary development trends for civilian drones.

In the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong, a leader in China's development and the world's civilian drone industry, dominated by Shenzhen, has laid a solid technical foundation for Chinese first release of manned drones. Morgan Stanley stated in the Blue Book released in 2018 that due to the significant uncertainties in technology and government regulations, it conservatively estimated that the urban air transportation industry would not begin to develop until 2030. However, the world's first human-crewed fully automated uncrewed aerial vehicle, Yihang 184, released in Las Vegas, the USA, in 2016, opened a new chapter for the urban air transportation industry. EHang's fully automatic aircraft has successfully carried out more than 2,000 manned and unloaded flight tests ready for commercial operation. At the same time, Ehang is also one of the few eVTOL companies globally that have achieved mass production and sales. In 2019, Yihang sold 61 AAV autonomous UAVs in total, compared to only 3 in 2018.

3.2.3 UAM future: optimizing products in multiple directions, accelerating the pace of commercialization

Suppliers in the urban air transportation industry need to manufacture intelligent aircraft and build a centralized platform to support commercial operations and comprehensive proficiency in aviation, communications, computers, materials science, and other interdisciplinary skills. At present, the high cost of batteries, lightweight body materials, and optimization of body configuration are urgent problems in the UAM industry's commercialization.
Battery: The single item has the highest cost, which has a significant impact on profits
The battery is the component with the highest single cost. Taking the Ehang 216 autopilot as an example, considering 500 charging cycles, the battery accounts for more than 60% of the total operating cost. The battery cost is reduced by 1%, and the operator's operating profit will increase by 3%, and the battery life will be extended by 1%, and the operating profit will increase by 2%. Secondly, since the weight of the battery accounts for about 1/3 of the autopilot's empty weight, the continued weight reduction of the battery will significantly increase the range of the autopilot. Finally, shortening the battery charging time will increase asset utilization and improve operational effectiveness from a business perspective.

Body material: the road to lightweight and low cost

Lightweight and low-cost body materials are difficulties that eVTOL must overcome to achieve mass production. For one, autopilots are very sensitive to weight. Composite materials are light in weight and strong in structure, making them ideal aerospace materials. For example, key components such as electric motors are made of metal. Further lightening of new materials or new aircraft designs will help extend the range and improve overall performance. Second, composite material technology is mainly to solve structural production and structural maintenance, which is a difficulty that all aircraft must overcome on the road to reduce costs.

In April 2020, Japan’s TORAY proposed continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite materials to boost the mass production of eVTOL. The key factors to expand the production scale of carbon fiber composites are in three aspects: automated rapid production, welding/modular structure and reconfigurability, and room temperature storage; thermoplastic composites can solve these problems well. TORAY believes that the use of thermoplastic composites. The cost of manufacturing parts can be reduced by 30% to 50% compared to thermoset composite materials. In terms of production and manufacturing efficiency, the molding process of thermoplastic composite materials only undergoes physical changes such as heating to soften and cool to harden. The preparation process can be completed by only heating, pressure molding, and cooling. The hot press molding process can be used, so the Short molding cycle, high production efficiency, and low cost. In July of the same year, Toray announced that it would provide Lilium with high-performance carbon fiber composite materials for eVTOL Lilium Jet aircraft.

Body configuration: vertical takeoff and landing fixed-wing is one of the future trends

The vertical takeoff and landing fixed-wing are more energy-efficient and have a more extended range. Despite the many advantages of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, the lack of the inherent lift of fixed wings means that the energy efficiency is not high and the range is limited. Improved design, combined with the advantages of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and fixed-wing aircraft, using multi-rotor and fixed-wing composite vertical takeoff and landing fixed-wing configuration, can improve the aerodynamic efficiency, range, and safety of the UAV.

The vertical takeoff and landing fixed-wing market is multiplying. With the help of the UAM industry's development, the track's subdivision will be a new leader in the industry. According to the classification of aircraft types, vertical takeoff and landing fixed-wing aircraft have tremendous growth potential. According to Frost & Sullivan's forecast, the vertical takeoff and landing fixed-wing market share will increase three times in five years, from 10.11% in 2019 to 30.61% in 2024. The vertical takeoff and landing fixed-wing market has grown ten times in five years, from RMB 1.231 billion in 2019 to RMB 12.426 billion in 2024. In the same period, the multi-rotor market scale only increased by 3.6 times, from RMB 6.406 billion in 2019 to RMB 23.210 billion in 2024, and the market share decreased by 17.65% accordingly.