Choosing the Right Drone

A drone or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) is an unmanned, usually remote-controlled aircraft. The drones discussed in this buying guide have civilian, commercial or industrial uses. These drones are more heavy duty, larger and can carry greater loads than recreational drones.

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  • How to choose a drone for professional use?

    When choosing a drone or UAV, you should first consider your application, which will determine whether you need a fixed or a rotary wing model. The wing type has a big impact on the manoeuvrability and endurance of your drone. For example, while a fixed-wing drone is easier to fly, it will not allow you to hover. To hover, you’ll need to use a rotary-wing drone.

    Endurance is another essential factor when making your choice. There are drones with flight endurance of a few dozen minutes, a quarter of an hour, half an hour, and others that can last several hours (from 2 to 24 hours for the most advanced). A drone’s endurance depends on two factors: its wing type (fixed-wing have a higher flight endurance) and weather conditions as some drones are very sensitive to this. If a drone has to fight against the wind, for example, it consumes a lot of energy, which has an impact on its endurance.

    Lastly, we recommend that you take into account the drone’s payload, i.e. the load it can carry. Drones have built-in equipment of a certain weight (measuring devices, video camera, sensors, etc.) and they are sometimes equipped with holds in which it is possible to store objects or documents to be transported. If your drone is intended for transporting objects, we suggest you pay particular attention to its payload. This can be anywhere from a few kilos up to 50 kg for higher end models.

    Important characteristics:

    • Fixed-wing or rotary-wing
    • Endurance
    • Payload
  • What type of drone should you choose: fixed-wing or rotary-wing?

    Delair fixed-wing drone

    What distinguishes the different types of UAVs is their wings. They can be fixed-wing, rotary-wing or multirotor. Each type has advantages and is adapted to specific applications.

    A fixed-wing drone has flat wings. This allows these drones to be better adapted to long distances, which they cover using less energy than rotary-wing drones. While the lowest end fixed-wing drones have a flight endurance of only a few dozen minutes, they remain the best placed in terms of endurance in general, and the most expensive models can last up to 24 hours. This is why we recommend this type of UAV for long missions such as mapping or agricultural spreading.

    Fixed-wing drones are also faster than rotary-wing drones, so they can cover greater distances in the same amount of time. They can also fly at higher altitudes. All these characteristics make them suitable for collecting as much information as possible in one flight.

    Fixed-wing drones can also carry heavier loads than rotary-wing drones. The fixed wing structure provides exceptional stability that allows the drone to carry loads of up to 50 kg.

    This type of drone is also particularly easy to fly. However, it is important to remember that their wings do not allow them to hover.

    Hélicéo rotary-wing drone

    Rotary-wing drones operate like helicopters, so their greatest advantages are their vertical flight capability, which facilitates takeoffs and landings, and their hovering capability, which allows them to fly in narrow spaces and around obstacles. They are therefore suitable for inspection applications, for example machine and industrial plant monitoring.

    Nevertheless, their flight endurance is lower than fixed-wing drones. Their short range and low speed will mean you will have to make several flights. Lastly, this type of drone requires complex and regular maintenance, due to its elaborate construction.

    Multirotor drones are rotary-wing drones with several small-diameter rotors (usually four, six or eight rotors). Compared to single-rotor drones, multirotor models benefit from greater stability and self-stablizing hovering, which makes piloting them easier.

    However, multirotor drones use more energy and are more sensitive to weather conditions.

    There are also hybrid constructions (fixed-wing/rotary-wing) that exist. These UAVs have the advantages of both types: they are fast and stable, have long flight endurance and allow vertical takeoffs and landings. However, they are not intended to hover.

    Advantages Disadvantages
    Fixed-wing drone
    • Long range
    • Faster
    • Heavier loads
    • Fly at higher altitudes
    • Use less energy, therefore better flight endurance
    • Impossible to hover
    • Vertical takeoff impossible
    Rotary-wing drone
    • Very maneuverable
    • Can hover
    • Vertical takeoff and landing possible
    • Low endurance
    • Reduced speed and load
    • Regular maintenance required
    Multirotor drone
    • Greater manoeuvrability
    • Can hover
    • Vertical takeoff and landing possible
    • Even lower endurance
    • Reduced speed and load
    • Regular maintenance required
    • Sensitive to weather conditions
    Hybrid drone
    • High endurance
    • Fast
    • Heavier loads
    • Vertical takeoff and landing possible
    • Impossible to hover
  • What professional applications are drones used for?

    Ageagle drone

    Drones can be used for many professional applications, depending on the type of wings they have.
    If you work on a farm, you will probably use a UAV for agricultural applications, whether it be for soil analysis or plantation maintenance (spreading).

    Drones have also become indispensable in topography. They are capable of simultaneously establishing precise measurements of distance, hygrometry, temperature, height and other important specs. UAVs can cover large areas, flying at altitudes of up to 150 meters. The rapid analysis of drones also saves surveyors a lot of time. These drones operate with specialized software (the most well-known is Cardinal) that uses the telemetry data collected to create interactive maps. Remember, hovering, which is particularly useful for topographic surveys, is only possible with rotary-wing, multirotor or VTOL drones.

    Other trades are increasingly using UAVs adapted to their applications. For example, real estate and film professionals are increasingly exploiting this type of technology to take photographs (sometimes at 360°) or film from the sky. Drones are also used in security (for example to quickly locate people in danger).

  • What trends and innovations are there for drones?

    UAV technology, which is increasingly used by professionals and private individuals alike, is constantly being improved.

    First of all, drones are getting smarter and more autonomous. The latest models on the market are now able to detect obstacles using vision sensors. Some models are also equipped with a memory function and can store the position of objects and thus avoid obstacles thanks to a 3D map. New systems also allow drones to fly in all weather conditions, even in fog. Safety has also become a central factor that is being increasingly emphasized along with vision systems in order to avoid collisions that could have grave consequences.

    The information gathered by drones is also increasingly precise and relevant, and is rapidly transmitted. This means drones can now replace human workers in aircraft maintenance inspection, making reliable analyses of aircraft in 10 minutes and spotting even the slightest anomalies.

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