Drones can be described as unmanned aircraft that can be controlled using a remote unit or autonomously. Drones have been used significantly recently for several purposes and their usage is expected to grow in the coming years. They come in a variety of sizes and designs with different levels of technology, ability, functionality, and uses. Due to their different designs and structures, drones can be classified or categorized based on their size, flight range, aerial platform, ability, and equipment, and autonomy.
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Drones come in different sizes and they have different features and uses. You must decide what you want to use your new drone for before deciding on the size of your drone that would be perfect for you. We will be highlighting the different sizes of drones and their uses in the next paragraph.
Very Small Drones
They have a size range varying from about 3cm to 5cm long. They are mostly designed as micro or Nano drones. Very small drones can be used spying purposes because of their lightweight and very small structure. Or just for fun for children and indoor use.
They are also referred to as mini drones. They have a size range above 5 cm which is a little bigger than very small drones which are designed as micro or Nano. It is also important to note that small drones do not exceed 20 cm in size. Small drones only have little power due to their small size and they are mostly designed with fixed wings except for few with rotary wings.
This size of drones is heavier than small drones but is smaller and lighter than aircraft. They have an average flight capacity of about 6 to 10 minutes and can carry large weights.
Large Sized Drones
These have a size that can be compared to the size of an aircraft. They are essentially used as surveillance devices for military applications. They are used to capture places or locations that cannot be -7accessed or covered with normal aircraft.
How long a drone can fly depends on the drone capabilities such as flight range and endurance. Some drones can only travel as far as 20m while some drones with a longer flight range can cover miles. The flight range of drones differs according to their flight range and flying time.
Close Flight Range Drones
They have a flying capacity of about 3-5 kilometers and a flying time of about 1 to 5 hours. Close flight range drones are also used for surveillance missions due to their flight range which allows them to cover a reasonable amount of distance and also their battery capacity.
Short Flight Range Drones
They can cover a maximum distance of 8-10 kilometers which is about thrice the distance coverage of short flight range drones. The average flying time of short-range drones is about 8 to 12 hours which makes them useful for spy and reconnaissance purposes. Their superiority over short flight range drones makes them useful for military applications.
Mid-Range Flight Drones
They are very powerful and more superior to the previously discussed drones above. They possess high speed and a flight range capacity that can cover a distance of up to 15 kilometers and more. Due to their power, flight range capacity, and high speed, mid-range flight drones are mostly used for military applications most especially in the area of surveillance. They can also be used for meteorological data collection purposes.
Drones are also designed based on aerial platforms. The functionality and capability of a drone mostly depend on its aerial platform. There are four major types of aerial platform drones.
Multi Rotor Drones
These types of drones are used by non-professionals and professionals and are the most popular and common. They are commonly used for aerial video surveillance, aerial photography, etc. It is important to note that multi rotor drones have the simplest design, are very easy to manufacture, and also the cheapest amongst drones based on an aerial platform.
Multi rotor drones are also categorized using the number of rotors they have. There are four types which are; 8 rotors (octocopter) 6 rotors (hexacopter) 4 rotors (quadcopter) and 3 rotors (tricopter). Multi rotor drones with 4 rotors are the most common and mostly used.
Multi rotor drones have lots of disadvantages, the most common include its limited flight time, speed, and endurance which makes them not suitable for long-distance surveillance or mapping.
Single Rotor Drones
The design and structure of single rotor drones are very similar to that of helicopters. Single rotor drones as their name imply possess just one rotor. Unlike multi-rotor drones, single rotor drones are more efficient. They have longer flying times and higher speed and endurance. But, single rotor drones are very complex, have higher operational risks, and are also expensive.
Fixed Wing Drones
The design and structure of fixed-wing drones are totally different from that of multi-rotor drones. Fixed-wing drones can’t stand still or stay on air rather, they move by a guide control or remote that is operated by a human. Fixed-wing drones have a flying time capability of up to 16 hours. They are suitable for long distance surveillance and mapping due to their higher efficiency and flying time. However, they are not ideal for aerial photography because they can’t stand still or stay in the air for a particular period.
Some of the disadvantages of fixed win drones include its high cost and the difficulty in flying which needs special training as it requires a catapult launcher or runway to set it on its course in the air.
Hybrid VTOL Drones
This type of drones is a combination of fixed wing drones and rotor drones. Hybrid VTOL drones automated or glided manually. They can be controlled automatically by setting them in automated mode to make them stay in the air or control them manually using a remote unit.
Drone Ability and Equipment
Drones have different abilities and are made up of different equipment which makes every drone special in its own way and different from the other.
Drone racing is a fast-growing sport that is becoming popular day by day. With racing leagues and events sprouting up all over, the popularity of racing drones is also increasing drastically. Racing drones are very different from consumer camera drones used for photography and video like the DJI Phantom, have automatic stabilization features and batteries that can last 25 minutes, However, You are unlikely to find these types of features on a racing drone. Most racing drones are designed for hard racing that consumes battery life really fast. Racing drones come in various forms but they are mostly made of four motors, Electronic Speed Controllers and propellers, video and controller transmitters, and also an on-board camera. Another vital kit that is quite necessary before you start flying is the FPV monitor or goggles. You can get a racing drone for as low as $200. However, this quadcopter will only be suitable for racing at local events. If you want a sophisticated and competitive racer, you could also build it and that can cost up to $800. Some racing drones include DRL RacerX, ImmersionRC Vortex 250 pro, Fat Shark HDO among others.
Drones with GPS are becoming useful and necessary in the modern world. The number of individuals interested in drones equipped with GPS keeps increasing because of its efficiency and suitability for commercial use. It is essential for aerial photogrammetry, 3D mapping, and multispectral imaging. Some drones with GPS include the DJI Phantom 4, Parrot Anafi FPV, and Mavic 2 Zoom among others.
Camera drones are unmanned aircraft or ship that are guided remotely and also navigated independently. Camera drones have become so prominent. They can have the capability to shoot from almost anywhere and any angles. A camera drone is made from various composite materials which are light to increase mobility while flying and also reduce the weight of the camera drone. Camera drones have vast areas of application and there is still a lot more that camera drones can do. Some areas of application for camera drones include security, general and wildlife surveillance, and weather forecast.
The First Person View drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle with a camera that wirelessly transmits video feed to goggles or monitors. FPV flying mostly requires two ground station controllers which make it technical. The user has a first-person view (FPV) of the location where the drone flies through the goggles which display what the drone sees in the lenses and may capture video or still images. Some examples of FPV goggles include DJI FPV Goggles and Fat Shark Predator V2 headset. FPV allows you to fly much higher and further beyond the visual range of the pilot. Autel, Husband, Walkera, and some DJI models come with the FPV Flying technology as part of the package.
Drone Autonomy and Automation
With the rapid improvement in modern technology, drone industries are improving the level of technology and automation of their drones, they now manufacture drones with unbelievable intelligence that will not only receive information from an operator but drones that can think for themselves, free from any external influence and control. Drones that can carry out a complex assignment, even on dangerous grounds such as inspecting and exploring disaster areas, mining, and other complex tasks you can think of. Autonomy could imply independence and the level of automation of the drone. Although with the rapid improvement in technology, human influence on drone operations has minimized drastically, we cannot neglect the fact that a high level of responsibility is required to fly drones in the national airspace. There are five different levels of autonomy that can be related to the level of automation. They include;
Level 0: No Automation
The drone requires full and absolute control of every movement and action at all times. This implies, there is absolutely no autonomy.
Level 1: Pilot Assistance
Although the operator remains in control, the drone can provide a form of assistance for navigation and/or keep altitude and position. The drone can perform at least one action for a short and specific period. The overall operation and safety of the drone are still in the hands of the pilot.
Level 2: Partial Automation
The operator is in control, but multiple autonomous systems are running simultaneously and the drone can perform a subset of defined task without operator interaction.
Level 3: Conditional Automation
The drone operates autonomously under specific conditions but an operator must pay attention and monitor its progress. The pilot must be prepared to take over control or assist at any time as the drone notifies if intervention is needed.
Level 4: High Automation
The drone is autonomous in most situations; however, the pilot might decide to take over but mostly doesn’t have to. The drone can successfully fly itself in the right situation and circumstances. Backup system is usually put in place to keep the drone functional and operational in the case of system failure. Its action relies on a fixed set of rules that dictates the system behavior.
Level 5: Full Automation
The drone is fully autonomous and accomplishes its entire task under any conditions without operator interaction and is responsible for all safety, critical, and earthmoving functions.
Currently, the level of automation is between Level 3 and Level 4, where the drone can make a couple of decisions without human intervention, but a certain level of human supervision is necessary.
Drones have changed the field of photography. These quadcopters have given us a different perspective of the world through their fantastic photography abilities. The drone photography has become a sensation, and many countries are conducting contests in drone photography. To make your photos stand out, you must have some unique composition and a different perspective from others. The drone technology helps you to explore the world from a different view. Drone photography is about the adventure of finding new points of view. In case you are an accomplished photographer, drones can open up another universe of opportunities for you to explore. In case you are new to the medium, drones are unfathomable inception to the intensity of photography.
Underwater drones are also called ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) and are used to take photos and videos deep underwater. We might have seen many drones that take over the sky, but underwater drones also play a vital role in underwater photography. These underwater drones are not new to this principal photography field. But the commercial appeal for these drones has risen more in the last few years since new perspectives in the photography field became popular. The Powervision produces some of the finest underwater drones for consumer usage. These underwater drones are attractive in design, and they cost as much as any airborne drones. Researchers say that 95% of the oceans are still unexplored. That’s where these drones come in handy. Check out our list of best underwater drones.
GoPro has changed the photography purpose of the drones and has raised the bar to another level. Many of the drones in the industry, like DJI and Potensic, come with a GoPro camera. Or if you’re looking just for a quadcopter to mount your GoPro camera on, those drones are available on the market too. There are two varieties of GoPro drone single in the market. Either the drone is GoPro compatible, or you can mount your GoPro camera to take photographs.
GoPro is an American technology company founded in 2002. If you’re wondering why GoPro camera, then the reason is that the GoPro camera is capable of taking extreme sports moments like surfing, racing, etc. It can deliver professional-looking photos and video footage. Check out our article about the best GoPro drones available in the market.
Selfie drones are compact, slim in size, and come in a variety of designs. Due to the technological improvements, the drone manufacturers are making the chips and sensors come together in a small package. The selfie drone’s main feature is that it is pocket friendly and can be folded and taken anywhere. The term “drone” is a combination of drones, and selfie has become an internet craze among many users.
These selfie drones are easy to carry, and once launched, it does its work entirely. Most of the selfie drones are controlled using an APP, and the controls are beginner-friendly. Some selfie drones have some advanced features like precise positioning, gesture control, facial recognition, etc.
Before owning a drone, know about the drone regulations of UAV in your country. As the drone industry becomes more and more advanced, so does the rules and regulations. Some states have well-established drone regulations, while others don’t have any explicit rules on UAV aviation. So before buying one, check your countries regulations about drone flight.
Some of the main rules and regulations for owning a drone:
? If your drone is above 250gms, you have to register with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
? You shouldn’t fly below 400 feet.
? It would be best if you always keep your drone in sight.
? It would be best if you didn’t fly in restricted places.
? You shouldn’t fly near the airport or over the stadium.
The drone mentioned above regulations is essential factors to check for both your safety and the public. Please fly safely, and don’t forget to have fun.
The drone industry is a booming business, and the joining of many drone companies is inevitable. While it is impossible to keep a list of all the drone companies due to the industry’s fast-moving nature, some of the notable drone manufacturers have laid unforgettable footprints in the market.
DJI, Parrot, and Yuneec are some of the notable drone manufacturers in the industry. These drone companies produce quadcopters in various sizes and specifications and at a reasonable price range. But many other companies make other essential features like flight operation management, mapping, and data processing tools. Skyward, Kittyhawk 3DR and PrecisionHawk are some of the well-noted companies that manufacture the mapping and flight software.
Best budget drone
With the latest innovation in the drone industry, there are many cheap drones with excellent features that might suit your budget. The best budget drone will have features like an HD camera, GPS positioning, and a good battery backup. These features vary according to your account and application. If you are a beginner, you can get a drone below $100 for practice.
If you are looking to buy a DJI brand, the DJI Mavic mini is the best budget drone for both professionals and beginners. In this vast market with many options, know your usage, and fix your budget before spending a considerable amount of money on drones. Check out our article on the best budget drone under $200, 300, $500, and $1000.