What are the effects of the pandemic on the high-end inertial sensor market?


  • Yole Développement (Yole) sees the high-end inertial system market experiencing a 2.7% annual growth rate, reaching US$3.80 billion in 2025.
  • The market for accelerometers, gyroscopes, IMU, INS is still fragmented, with many applications.
  • With COVID-19 outbreak, Yole announces negative impacts on several market segments:
    Commercial aerospace will be the hardest hit, contracting drastically in 2020…
    Commercial naval applications will be negatively affected in 2020 but resume growth in 2021 at 2% annually up to 2025.
    Industrial applications will be slightly affected in 2020 mostly due to supply chain problems.
    But the story will not stop here.

“In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected all end-markets with various outlooks” asserts Dimitrios Damianos, PhD, Technology and Market Analyst, within the Photonics and Sensing division at Yole Développement (Yole).“Indeed, in 2019, Yole estimated that the global high-end inertial systems market was worth US$3.24 billion, which remains highly fragmented with many applications. In general, 2019 was a very good year for the aerospace and defense industries”.
The estimated global defense/military spending was approximately US$1,800 billion according to the SIPRI , with the US accounting for a record US$760 billion defense expenditure. High-end inertial units are one of the key components in these systems, for navigation, stabilization and other purposes.
The defense market expects no significant effect, since military programs are still running and budgets have already been allocated. There could possibly be some delay in shipments due to supply chain/logistics problems which could hinder annual growth. Nevertheless, there is a strong interest in resilient PNT solutions for GPS-denied environments and against GPS-jamming, when navigation is of paramount importance in critical missions.

In this context, Yole releases an updated version of the High-End Inertial Sensors for Defense, Aerospace and Industrial Applications 2020 report, including updated forecasts of volumes, market values and ASP of gyroscopes, accelerometers, IMU and INS. An updated version of the supply chain, and adjustments of end-system volumes are also part of this new study.
In addition, Yole’s partner, the technology and cost analysis company System Plus Consulting, delivers two dedicated reports:
Sensonor STIM318 Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
Safran Colibrys MS1010 and MEMSIC MXA2500M High-End Accelerometers
Yole and System Plus Consulting shed lights on the post COVID-19 High-end inertial sensors industry.

According to Guillaume Girardin, PhD, Director of the Photonics and Sensing Division at Yole: “The future for commercial aerospace looks grim. Air travel has paralyzed due to the pandemic and future plane orders have been revised downwards. For sure, long-range wide-body aircraft will suffer. There is a ray of hope for aerospace contractors (sensors, systems, etc) from the possibility of strengthening short-haul, regional flights that will require more narrow-body aircraft, but nothing is yet certain”.
Indeed, commercial aerospace/civil aviation will take a few years to recover to pre-COVID levels. Between 2019-2025, a -0.4% CAGR is expected for high-end inertial systems associated with this market. On the other hand, UAV, drones, micro/nano-satellites and new space applications (reusable rockets, spacecraft, etc) are expected to grow faster.
The commercial naval market will be negatively affected from COVID-19 in the short term (less cruise ships, less tankers/logistics ships) but in the longer term it is expected to grow at a CAGR2019-2025 of 2%, driven by traditional gyrocompass and antenna stabilization. AUV/ ROV could show some promising growth.
Regarding the industrial market Yole’s analysts expect it to drop in 2020 due to the pandemic after-effects, especially due to supply chain problems in general but also due to some drilling applications, since oil & gas projects have been postponed or cancelled. The industrial market will recover in 2021 resuming its growth and is expected to double in size in 5 years, driven by long-awaited applications that we predicted before and have already made their first baby steps: robotic cars, autonomous robots (collaborative, delivery, etc), IIoT and micro/nano-satellites. New players in these domains come from various backgrounds and are ready to adopt inertial technologies. In these high-volume applications, integrators will be probably technology-agnostic and a good cost, size, weight and power (C-SWAP) could prove beneficial. This is definitely a market to watch out for.

The inertial system landscape has been traditionally pretty stable. Both in US and globally, Honeywell is still the leader with Northrop Grumman following. Other notable but smaller players include KVH, Kearfott and Emcore/ SDI. US companies rule over the high-end inertial systems market, with Europe and Asia as runner-ups.
On one hand, the European inertial market is dominated by Safran, which is by far the biggest player, with revenues that are an order of magnitude higher than other players such as Raytheon Anschutz, iXblue, Sensonor, Meggitt, GEM elettronica, iMAR, Kongsberg and Silicon Sensing.. In this dynamic context, System Plus Consulting proposes valuable reverse engineering and costing analyses dedicated on the latest discruptive high-end inertial modules and components developed by these European companies. Its aim is to reveal a deep understanding of the technical choices made by the leading players.
Sensonor STIM318 Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) report is part of System Plus Consulting collection. The analysts provide today a full reverse costing study focused on Sensonor’s module. This report discloses key insights into technology data, manufacturing cost, estimated selling price and much more:
“STIM318 is the newest IMU proposed by Sensonor” asserts Sylvain Hallereau, Project Manager at System Plus Consulting. “It is a tactical grade, non-GPS aided, 9-axis IMU containing three highly accurate MEMS gyroscopes, three single axis accelerometers and two dual-axis accelerometers”.
The company deeply investigated Sensonor’s technical approach and strategy and also analyzed the single axis and dual-axis accelerometers found in this STIM318 IMU. Accurate and strategic results are available in the following reports: Safran Colibrys’s MS1010 and MEMSIC’s MXA2500M High-End Accelerometers. Moreover, a detailed technology comparison between the Safran Colibrys MS1010 and VS1002 accelerometers on one hand, and MEMSIC’s MXA2500M and MXR7250VW accelerometers on the other hand, is included in this report. Finally, a very fragmented market exists in Asia and the rest of the world. The biggest identified players include CASC and JAE.. Chinese developments in inertial technologies originate in either military or academic environments, which are difficult to access. Still, the Chinese market should be closely monitored as many developments are ongoing in the domains of high interest such as structure monitoring in IIoT, and general autonomous mobility.
For Dimitrios Damianos:
“It is important for the companies involved in the high-end inertial market to invest in the right technologies and partners, depending on the end applications targeted”.

All year long, Yole Group of Companies, including System Plus Consulting and Yole Développement, publishes numerous MEMS & Sensors reports. Discover an overview of our activities on i-Micronews.com with interviews with leading companies, analyses from our experts and dedicated online and onsite events.Stay tuned !

SIPRI : Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
PNT : Positioning, Navigation and Timing
ASP : average selling prices
IMU : inertial measurement units
INS : inertial navigation system
CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate
IIoT : Industrial Internet of Things