LiDAR Mapping Market Accelerating Towards Billion Dollars

Updated: Mar 29, 2021

Just about a year ago, I wrote a Linkedin article about the market for LiDAR mapping, survey, and inspection. I estimated the total market size could reach one billion USD in 5 years. Despite a challenging 2020, the industry continues to expand. As the world recovering from the covid-19, the LiDAR application market is picking up steam again at an impressive pace. With the DJI Zenmuse L1 coming online, we may see a big jump in adoption. It’s time for an update.


L1 almost came out of the blue as a big surprise to many. But some in the industry already knew that DJI had been working on a LiDAR payload since at least 2018. If as impressive as advertised, the L1 is likely to delivery a unit shipment number never seen before for drone LiDAR. The FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) impact brought by L1 may also force additional drone LiDAR adopters, who for one reason or another cannot choose L1, to get in the game and purchase payloads from other providers.


Although L1 may take away market share from other vendors in the same Performance/Price segment, it will bring overall market growth. The growth will only compound as the technology becomes more mainstream with increased adoption.


I think, conservatively, the total market value will reach 1 billion dollars in as short as 3 years if not sooner. This is an exciting time for many.


“The Market” here refers to LiDAR applications (aerial and terrestrial) for mapping, survey, and inspection, such as archaeology mapping, land survey, and utility corridor inspection etc. It does not include auto, 3D modeling, or robotics. Also, L1’s sales number and impact on the sales of other systems are not directly factored in for 2021. It is simply too big a variable at this time but should boost the overall estimates.


So, here we go.


For FY2021, the total LiDAR mapping market value is estimated to be just over $500 million.


By Category

  • Aerial/drone LiDAR hardware unit shipment is likely to be 400 to 600 units, NOT including DJI L1, contributing about 50 to 60 million USD in sales.

  • Terrestrial LiDAR hardware unit shipment is estimated to be over 500 units, including stationary scanners, hand-held/backpack systems, and MMS, accounting for 30 to 40 million USD in total market value.

  • LiDAR data processing software sales may be 20 to 30 million USD.

  • LiDAR mapping services, primarily land survey, building and construction site mapping, and utilities corridor survey and inspection, could reach 400 to 500 million USD globally.

By Geography

  • North America (NA) and China will dominate. Which one is larger is hard to say. The demand in China is affected by government policies for certain industries, which could change the numbers meaningfully. Also, the competition in NA is likely to be the most intense, with just about all brands fighting for market share here. In China, however, the game is primarily between domestic brands.

  • Japan is likely to be the 3rd largest market, thanks to accommodating policies by the Japanese government and increasing organic demand due to changing workforce situations. I am particularly interested in the Japan market and will write a separate article later on about Japan.

  • After Japan, the APAC and Euro zones may split the next slice, with LATAM region closing up the chart.

Base on these numbers, and a low CAGR of 25%, the total market size could reach 1 BILLION USD in 3 years.

DJI L1


Rumored to be priced at just below 20,000 USD retail, for the listed performance (5cm vertical @ 50m AGL) and real-time features provided, the Zenmuse L1 is a superbly attractively choice especially for first-time drone LiDAR customers.


How much will DJI L1 impact the market is yet to be seen, for FY2021 at least. It is expected to ship in April but only selectively. It could be as late as July before DJI begins to deliver L1 at scale. Therefore its real impact may not be clear until as late as Q4 2021. Nonetheless, the L1 is already capturing early adopters based on information from selected dealers authorized to sell L1 at launch.


Overall, L1 should boost the total number of drone LiDAR units shipment in 2021. If the product delivers the performance as advertised, it will spike the curve and change the drone LiDAR market in such a massive way that nobody can accurately forecast.

For a customer, whether to choose L1 or another system, is a very popular topic. This has also been a difficult question for dealers in the market. That will be my next post.


Do you agree with my estimates? Please leave your thoughts, comments, and questions.

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