Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Drones and Mobile Robots


Drones and mobile robots are rapidly moving from science fiction to productive platforms transforming a wide range of industries. Product leaders must explore critical emerging technologies now to capitalize on this fast-evolving market opportunity, and to differentiate their offerings.


Key Findings

  • Robots and drones remain highly specialized, with capabilities designed for a specific task or shortlist of tasks.
  • Many deployments of robots and drones are still at proof of concept and trial stages, and will take advantage of new technologies as they become available.
  • The increased capabilities of robots and drones is having a knock-on effect on supporting systems, as greater data gathering requires more communications and management systems as well as additional AI for analysis.


Product leaders at technology and service providers planning product developments that leverage robot or drone technology must:

  • Create early market share by identifying use cases where robots or drones can deliver specific, and immediate, value.
  • Roadmap development or deployment by matching use cases with enabling technologies identified in this Impact Radar.
  • Extract the maximum value from robot and drone operations by ensuring that supporting systems are capable of transmitting, storing, and analyzing supplied data.


The technologies behind robots and drones are enabling rapid growth which will accelerate as greater autonomy increases the applicable use cases while reducing the cost of deployment. Enterprises can deploy, and get value from, a handful of robots or drones, without investing millions of dollars. Installations can then be scaled with demand, building up to provide world-changing services.

Product leaders at technology and service providers must closely evaluate upcoming robot and drone technologies to ensure they are able to match use cases to them when, or before, they reach maturity. Upcoming robot and drone technologies will also have significant impacts on the types and capabilities of products a technology and service provider can develop and offer to the market. Leveraging new technologies in a timely fashion can also yield competitive advantages if correctly managed.

This Impact Radar provides insight into a number of technologies pertinent to the development of robots and drones. These can be divided into three major areas:

  • Autonomous Things: robots and drones designed to meet a specific need or use case, often requiring a combination of technical enhancements to reach practical deployment
  • Enabling Technologies: technologies that can enhance the capabilities of a robot or drone
  • Supporting Systems: mechanisms and systems which will be needed to enable widespread deployment of robots and drones within specific applications