Home10 Drone Designs That Suggest It’s Time to Hone Your Piloting Skills
By Don Reisinger
The drone designs, sales and applications have evolved to such an extent that they are starting to break out of their early position as just a curiosity, as toys and as limited niche devices into something far more interesting. As federal regulators work on rules that will govern how individuals or companies can operate drones, several companies, including Nvidia, Intel and Qualcomm, are investing heavily in the market in the hopes of capitalizing on what promises to be a massive opportunity. In fact, some estimates claim that eventually, more than 1 million drones will be flying in U.S. airspace at any given time. Exactly when that will happen depends on how regulators decide to govern drones, but all signs seem to point toward a widespread adoption among consumers and enterprise users.
For those looking to explore the potential of drones, there are already a wide range of drone designs available (or soon to be available) to purchase.
A Top-of-the-Line DJI Phantom 3 Series
Those looking for one of the higher-end drones on the market will find it in DJI’s Phantom 3 Series. The series is designed for those who want the full drone experience. The technology features the ability to capture full aerial footage in 4K, as well as provide an HD live view of the terrain as it’s flying around town. The Phantom 3 even features more range, tripling previous Phantom models and allowing users to control it from up to 3.1 miles away. For all of that, customers looking for the high-end Professional version will need to pay $1,259.
A Slightly Lesser DJI Phantom 2
Although the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is no longer in production and therefore not sold directly from the DJI site, it’s still one of the better options on the market and readily available on a slew of e-commerce sites, including Amazon. The drone comes with a three-axis gimbal to keep the camera still and provides live-streaming video, thanks to its built-in camera. Like the Phantom 3, the Phantom 2 comes with GPS-based navigation services. The drone can stay in the air for 25 minutes before it needs to be recharged. The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is available online for $899—a $500 discount off its original retail price of $1,399.
The Parrot Bebop Drone Is a Full-Fledged Quadricopter
The Parrot Bebop Drone is another cheap option, but is the logical successor to those who have graduated from a simpler product like the Rolling Spider. The Bebop features a full onboard computer, including a dual-core CPU, quad-core GPU and 8GB of flash memory. It’s also running on Linux, and an SDK is available to developers who want to use the drone for their own unique purposes. Like the Spider, the Bebop is controlled by a mobile device, such as the iPhone. The device comes with a 14-megapixel “fisheye” camera to capture video and photos. With all of those extra features, there is a jump in price: The Bebop costs $500.
DJI Inspire 1 Series Tuned for Pro Filmmakers
As one of the leading drone companies in the market, it’s perhaps no surprise that DJI gets another nod in this roundup. The DJI Inspire 1 Series is designed for professional filmmakers and those who want to capture fast-paced video. The drone comes equipped with the Zenmuse X5 and X5R cameras (depending on the version), which can capture 4K video at up to 30 frames per second and stills at 16 megapixels. The drone can stay in the air for up to 18 minutes before it needs to be recharged. Like other DJI options, it comes with a remote to control it while in-flight. Given its professional features, the Inspire 1 Series is not cheap: The line’s Pro device costs $4,499.
Go Aerial With the Yuneec Typhoon G for GoPro Enthusiasts
The Yuneec Typhoon G is one of the newer entrants into the drone market and is designed for GoPro enthusiasts. In fact, the device, which can last in flight for 25 minutes before a recharge, comes with an attachment that allows it to connect to a GoPro camera. Its app is also compatible with GoPro. The Yuneec Typhoon G, which as of this writing cannot be purchased on the Yuneec site, will be available for $1,000.
The 3D Robotics Solo Is the ‘Smart’ Drone
The 3D Robotics Solo is the “Smart Drone,” according to the company. The device has a 1GHz CPU onboard, as well as self-tightening, glass-secured props, live HD video support with help from the GoPro, and a three-axis gimbal for video stability. Interestingly, the 3D Robotics Solo remote comes with an HDMI port so users can see video on any device they want, including a television. The Solo with the three-axis gimbal goes for $1,400. It’s compatible with the GoPro Hero3+ and Hero4.
3D Robotics Offers X8-M for Enterprise Use
For the enterprise, 3D Robotics offers another high-end drone called the X8-M. The device has several luxury features, including an autopilot system, ground station radios, two flight batteries for longer flight time and an included Canon S100 camera that features 3D Robotics’ own bundled software. The drone is capable of covering up to 25 acres and flies at 25 miles per hour. In other words, it’s fast, far-ranging, and high-quality. But all of that comes at a price: $5,400. Image 9: Please use this image:
Chroma Drone Is for the Budding Photographer
Chroma Drone doesn’t necessarily have the same name recognition as some of its competitors, but at least on paper, it’s a fine option in its own right. The device uses both GPS and GLONASS to handle its satellite navigation and includes a remote that boasts a 5.5-inch touch-screen display. The remote’s internal software is built on Android, which should make users feel at home. To help newbies with drone flight, the device also features Safe Plus technology, which provides flight modes users can rely on to deliver much of the drone’s handling. The Chroma Drone is available for $1,200.
Take Flight With Parrot’s MiniDrone Rolling Spider
Parrot makes some of the cheaper drones on the market. The Parrot Minidrone Rolling Spider is one such device that may ultimately appeal to consumers who just want to get a product in the air. The device is controlled by a smartphone and flies both indoors and outdoors. Since the Rolling Spider is designed for both floor and air use, it comes with detachable wheels. Think of the Rolling Spider as a great first drone for those who just want to see what they’re all about and why there’s so much interest in the technology. The Rolling Spider costs just $100. Image 3: Please use this image:
Yuneec’s Typhoon Q5004K Is All About Video
Yuneec has another Typhoon line for those who want a slightly higher-end experience and would like to have a camera with the drone. The device, called the Typhoon Q5004K, does what you might expect: capture video in 4K. In addition, users will find 1080p slow-motion video capture and 12-megapixel camera photos. The drone itself is the standard quadricopter with a remote featuring a small display to see in real time what the camera is capturing. The 4K Typhoon goes for up to $1,299. Pricing varies depending on the number of batteries customers choose and the casing they desire.