Global drone shipments are expected to rise 39 per cent this year to nearly three million despite increasing regulation of the market.

Research by analyst house Gartner predicted that 2.8m would be bought by consumers with 174,000 snapped up for commercial use.

It expects that cheaper and lighter personal drones, capable of flying for no more than 5km or one hour with a maximum height of 500 metres, will gain in popularity as they can be controlled by smartphones.

Gartner senior research analyst Gerald Van Hoy said the commercial and personal drone markets were increasingly overlapping as some businesses preferred to use lower-priced equipment for commercial ventures.

“Personal drone suppliers are now aggressively trying to position themselves in the commercial market,” he said.

“Recent technological advances blur the lines, allowing personal drones to be used in many special-purpose applications, such as surveillance, 3D mapping and modelling.”

The commercial drone market will stabilise as more countries settle on effective regulation, allowing companies to confidently test and deploy the technology, Gartner said, while their most popular use looks to be for industrial asset inspection around oil, gas, energy, infrastructure and transportation.

Researchers said this segment will account for 30 per cent of the market through to 2020.

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