The inertial measurement unit market was valued at USD 18.97 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 27.23 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 6.49% over the forecast period 2021 - 2026.
- The growth of the inertial measurement unit (IMU) market is largely fueled by the increase in the number of applications, technological advancements, and the increasing demand in emerging countries of Asia-Pacific. Furthermore, the growth can be attributed to the increasing demand for accuracy in navigation aids and emergence of MEMS systems.
- The MEMS technology played a major role in expanding the application base for inertial measurement systems, by scaling down the size and power consumption of these devices, without compromising on their performance metrics.
- However, as IMU is mostly being dependent on MEMS, the improvement in the accuracy of an IMU with inertial sensors is being limited, such as putting the whole shebang in a constant temperature oven or adding data from other non-inertial sensors, such as a magnetometer or a motion capture system.
Key Market Trends
Aerospace and Defense Sector to Account for a Major Share
- IMUs used in defense applications comprise the best-in-class bias stability and performance metrics. High-end IMUs for defense applications represent one of the largest markets in the inertial systems sector. They are widely used in defense ships, military fighters, nuclear missiles, short/medium- and long-range missiles, guided munitions, and military helicopters.
- Defense-based applications are known to deploy two inertial navigational systems, in order to tackle redundancy and offer high fault tolerance. For instance, considering the use of high-end inertial systems in military helicopters. Military helicopters can be broadly categorized into special mission helicopters and combative rotorcrafts.
- FOG-based gyroscopes (as part of IMUs) are usually preferred in defense applications, when performance is considered the key criteria. Furthermore, the emergence of MEMS-based IMUs enabled a wider adoption in defense-based application. Usually, they are coupled with other forms of navigational systems to account for bias errors.
- Defense-based applications (especially in the United States, which represents the largest market for high-end IMUs) are governed by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). These bodies impose regulations, concerning trade and exchange of information on defense-related technology, to maintain the integrity and prevent the transfer of information to anti-government institutions.
North America to Lead the Market
- North America is expected to hold the largest market share, mainly attributed to the high defense budgets. The United States allocates the maximum budget for defense spending. For 2019, the United Statesâ€™ defense spending is predicted to be more than USD 681 billion. With the country accounting for more than 38% of the overall defense expenditure, the market is expected to remain a dominant sector in the industry.
- The US military uses a navigation-grade inertial measurement unit developed by Northrop Grumman. This miniaturized unit is based on MEMS technology, to enable navigation by sensing acceleration and angular motion, providing data outputs used by vehicle control systems for guidance.
- According to Boeing, in 2018, the demand for commercial airplanes is expected to increase, due to rising passenger traffic and upcoming airplane retirements. The company forecasts the need for 42,730 new jets, which are expected to be valued at USD 6.3 trillion over the next 20 years.
- The increase in the production of helicopters and commercial aircraft created huge potential market opportunities for IMUs. The US aerospace industry exports more than 60% of the total aerospace production. As a result various foreign firms are attracted to the US aerospace market, as it is the largest market in the world, employing a skilled and hospitable workforce, with diverse offerings and extensive distribution systems.
The inertial measurement unit market is highly fragmented. Increase in the number of applications and technological advancements across regions provides lucrative opportunities in the inertial measurement unit market. Overall, the competitive rivalry among existing competitors is high. Moving forward, acquisitions and partnership of large companies are focused toward innovation. Some of the key players in the market are Honeywell Aerospace Inc., Bosch Sensortec GmbH, and Thales Group. Some of the key developments in the area are:
- April 2019 - Kalyani Group and Thales formalized a new collaboration for the designing, development, and manufacturing of next-generation weapons systems for the defense and law enforcement sectors in India, as well as international markets.
- January 2019 - Honeywell announced the launch of its online buying and selling platform for new and used aircraft parts, which is available for online transactions in this space. By using blockchain technology, Honeywell is able to do some of its transactions in online basis, and it is the first company to leverage blockchain technology to build trust between the buyer and seller.
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