A new Europe-wide survey by Telford-based Protolabs Europe, the world’s fastest digital manufacturer of custom prototypes and low volume parts, suggests an increased appetite for ‘low space’ innovation and more investment into the fast-track testing of robots and drones. The Horizon Shift report found half of companies questioned believe commercial drone deliveries will be commonplace by 2023, as both the public and private sectors seek safe ways to guarantee services whilst containing the spread of any viruses.
A majority – 78 percent – of UK firms questioned believed that disruption in the form of drones represents the sector’s best opportunity for growth. This compares to 75 percent in Italy, 64 percent France and 57 percent Germany.
“Covid-19 has brought huge disruption to the global economy, with the aerospace sector being among the hardest hit,” said Bjoern Klaas, Protolabs Europe vice president and managing director.
“However, a crisis can act as a catalyst for further innovation, forcing organisations to seek alternative ways to survive in rapidly changing times. Our report shows that right now within aerospace, the ‘low space’ sector is demonstrating agility in its approach to innovation and there is a real appetite to see it work in the UK.
“In fact UKSA, the Government agency responsible for the UK’s civil space programme, has just announced a new drive to fund space-enabled technology to strengthen the NHS response to Coronavirus. Drone technology can help meet challenges, such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles, in the management of infectious disease outbreaks.”
Commercial drone deliveries are the most likely disruptor, Klass believes. “This was reinforced across the duration of our study, which was carried out as the Covid-19 pandemic started to take grip. In just a few weeks, the appetite for this technology increased by 11 percent.”