NEA envisions the initial NASA market to be primarily units for testing and validation at both the system level and at the air vehicle level. The autonomous capabilities that NEA proposes will contribute to NASA's testing and validation of the technologies and concepts for UAS operations in the NAS. Additionally, NEA's autonomous technology will provide an enhanced capability, enabling UAS more comprehensive flight-testing, for NASA's collaborative efforts with the FAA to accommodate UAS operations in the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). As the autonomous flight capabilities mature and are integrated into air vehicles, they will be of direct use to NASA in their flight testing of ground-based air navigational aids and guidance systems located in remote areas, such as Antarctica. NEA's autonomous technology will enable greater utilization of UAS in other NASA areas, particularly for experimentation and testing in the various research centers.
Government agencies, both military and civilian, will comprise a much larger market for the technology. The commercial sector will eventually be the largest market sector. A recent market analysis in Composites World magazine, drawing on work from both the Teal Group and AUVSI, indicates a global military market of approximately 57,000 UAS, with about 19,000 for the US military services–primarily in the reconnaissance and attack configurations, with growing utilization of utility and cargo configurations. Additionally, the analysis forecasts a commercial market of as many as 160,000 air vehicles, most of which would be in the public safety and precision agriculture segments. But there will be growth into numerous other areas that are now serviced by piloted aircraft.