Drone Industry in Canada: Home to an Exciting Drone Scene

drone industry in Canada
  • Top Reasons Why Canada’s Drone Ecosystem is Thriving

  • Key Companies and Organizations that Drive Drone Development

  • Canada’s Advanced Relationships With Drone Technology

  • What’s Next in the Canadian Drone Industry?

The drone industry is booming. In Canada, drones are used for a variety of purposes including aerial photography, search and rescue missions, environmental monitoring, and hazardous material detection.

From a global perspective, Canada has emerged as one of the leaders in developing this technology. The Canadian drone ecosystem covers everything from manufacturing to research and development with companies such as Aeryon Labs, Skyward, and Walkera all headquartered here in Canada. Drones can be used to create 3D maps of large-scale construction projects or provide emergency response during natural disasters such as the fire at Fort McMurray in 2016.

As of recently, Canada is home to more than 337,468 drones. Of course, this number only increases. According to estimates, the majority of drones is used for recreational purposes (around 74%). On the other hand, people use 26% of drones in Canada non-recreationally (military and commercially). The drones’ popularity doesn’t stop here. In fact, by 2070 the Canadian commercial market is projected to increase by more than 17%.

Factors Why the Drone Industry in Canada is Thriving

Numerous reasons attribute to the rising Canadian drone ecosystem. They range from friendly regulations to a developed infrastructure, focus on innovation and everything in between.

drone industry in Canada

Multiple Stakeholders

The Canadian drone ecosystem is quite complex and advanced due to a variety of factors. One factor is the number of key industry players in Canada. To illustrate, companies like Skyward and Draganfly are all headquartered here. These companies not only produce high-quality drones but also lead research and development for drone technology as well as provide training and education opportunities to other organizations that want to enter into the world of drones.

There are many small players in the industry as well including companies that work on drone hardware, software, and more. This includes several startups that are creating new drones like the Canadian company Aeryon Labs, now owned by FLIR, which has created some impressive autonomous solutions for industries such as mining or agriculture.

Drone-Supportive Laws and Regulations

Then, we should consider the Canadian drone regulations and laws. In Canada, drones can operate with less restriction than those in the United States for example.

The difference is that commercial drone operators need a Special Flight Operations Certificate which costs around $250 and takes about 45 minutes to process before an organization can fly their unmanned aerial system commercially. This certificate enables the organization to fly its drones up to a certain altitude and for specific purposes.

Having said that, the Canadian government has prioritized developing drones, too. In fact, they created an organization called “Unmanned Systems Canada” as well as developed many regulations that enable the development of drones.

Transport Canada’s Role

What’s more, the counterpart to the USA’s FAA, Transport Canada (TC). Through its initiatives, Canada now allows operations over people, night operations, and more. Also, it has its eyes on the beyond-visual-line-of-sight aspect, which is allowed to a certain extent and in certain conditions and locations.

In addition, TC has a much bigger role than just regulations. Moreover, it has released a Drone Strategy to 2025. It highlights several vital priorities that it plans to work on to further improve the Canadian drone ecosystem. It wants to develop safety regulations, establish a drone traffic management system, understand and address security risks, work on improving the public’s view on drones, as well as economic growth.

Developed Drone Infrastructure

Another factor is the country’s drone infrastructure that enables development. There is plenty of space in Canada for testing out drones or developing them with no interruption from other organizations which are close by.

For example, Quebec has a partnership in place to develop aerospace clusters and Ontario will soon be home to an innovation center for drones as well.

Partnerships that Drive Drone Innovation

Finally, Canada is home to important drone innovations such as a farmer-helping drone at York University. This isn’t the only place where drone innovation is fostered. In 2015, it was announced that Canada would be partnering with Boeing to develop a new drone. This marks an important step in developing this country’s expertise and will help Canadians create their own innovations for years to come.

Source: All in 4K

Key Players in the Canadian Drone Industry

Canada can boast with a plethora of drone companies and organizations that work with drones.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is one of the key players in Canada. This non-profit organization has been around since the 1970s and works to educate people about drones as well as lobby on behalf of the industry at large. AUVSI also provides a platform for different companies to come together and work closely with each other in the area of research and development.

Canada’s academic institutions like the University of Waterloo, play an important role, too. The university has created a lab dedicated to unmanned systems — the Waterloo Aerial Robotics Lab (WARL). In this lab, researchers are developing algorithms to make drones more autonomous. On top of that, students and professionals have an opportunity to get up-to-date drone information as well as to network with other professionals. Other universities and research centers are working on developing drones, too. UBC, for example, has a UBC Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UBCUAS) team of students.

Furthermore, a variety of drone companies operate in this country. One of them is Drone Delivery Canada, which received an additional test flight certificate from TC. With it, the company can test its delivery platform in Ontario and Alberta. What’s more, it has plans to help Indigenous communities with its drone innovations. Drone deliveries don’t stop there. Even Canada Post thinks of introducing delivering mail via drones. Some of the other companies that propel the drone industry forward include Flash Forest (known for its tree-planting drones), AirShare, Resson Aerospace, Laflamme Aero, The Sky Guys, ING Robotics, Draganfly, Skygauge, SkyX, and more.

Drone Industry In Canada: Overview of the Drone Scene

One of the key drivers of Canadian economic growth, especially in areas like Ontario, is aerospace manufacturing and technology. This industry contributes more than 5.3 billion dollars to the gross domestic product.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that individuals and organizations use drones for many purposes. They’re widely used both commercially and recreationally. The drone applications range from aerial photography and surveying for mining operations to providing relief during disasters. They’re also being used by law enforcement agencies and militaries as well as a new way to deliver goods. There are even drones used for agriculture and pest control! Besides these, drones have found a home in the construction and heavy industry, infrastructure, natural resources, insurance, and others.

Proof of the versatile applications is the drone Goosebuster. Thanks to it, the City of Ottawa and the company they hired, managed to use drone tech to control the population of geese on the Petrie Island, which would prevent high levels of E. coli bacteria in the water.

To help with the industry’s growth, Canada has nurtured a strong partnership with Israeli companies in the field of drones. For instance, Israelis have founded both the Vancouver-based company AerialX Drone Solutions, as well as, the Ontario-based SkyX.

There are plenty of places where you can enjoy your drone hobbies, too! The country is home to some great parks for flying drones and other aerial devices. Take a look at Calgary’s Deerfoot Sports Park, for example.

UC19Ottawa Conference and Tradeshow | Source: Unmanned Systems Canada

What’s more, Canada is home to many drone expos, like the one in Montreal, as well as conferences! The Canadian Unmanned Systems Conference is one of them, which takes place annually, organized by Unmanned Systems Canada.

Future of Drones in Canada

Canada’s relationship with drones doesn’t stop here. In fact, the future of drones is bright in this country. Canada’s future with drones will most likely include more investments in drones, expansion of drone usage, and working on more innovations. These innovations will continue to make an impact on the lives of Canadians and people from all over the world, too.

Source: Aerial Sports League

Drone racing is getting more popular there, too. Canada is a leading country in this particular space. Drone racing events take place throughout the year, and there are drone race teams that train for competitions here, too.

Canada has an active community of drone enthusiasts that will only grow in size. Following that, Canada recently got its youngest drone pilot. Pramath Patak, a 15-year-old from Toronto, is the youngest owner of an RPAS Advanced Operations Certificate in Canada.

Undeniably, the drone industry in Canada has plenty of room to grow. Plenty of the markets and applications remain untapped, so there are more opportunities for drone inclusion. A much bigger integration into the national airspace is predicted, too. This, as well as TC’s efforts in the regulatory system, give an outline of what we may expect from the future of drones in Canada.

It’s no secret that Canada is a drone-loving nation. The Canadian drone industry is growing rapidly and we can only imagine how much bigger it will grow from here. But what makes this development even more exciting are the innovations Canadians have been coming up with for drones—from delivering medical supplies in remote communities to helping farmers monitor their crops at home. We’re excited to see where else they surprise us!

To learn about other industries around the world, check out more drone-related stories on The Drones World today!