Those that aren’t familiar with the vast array of drones out there may be compelled to believe that there are only a handful of models available to the public. Drones actually come in a multitude of different shapes and forms, each with their own distinct functionality and aesthetics.
A large number of these drones have been specifically designed for commercial/industrial applications.
Considered UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), drones are essentially aircraft that don’t contain human pilots on board and a vast array of drones can be found in the market catering to different purposes.
There are very small drones that are equivalent to the size of an insect (some are even 50cm in length). These nano or micro drones have wings or rotors that help them achieve better manoeuvrability in smaller or enclosed spaces.
Medium drones are smaller than light aircraft but are still quite large. They can weigh up to 200kgs and are used for more heavy-duty purposes.
Large drones can be the size of small aircraft and the military typically uses them for high-risk areas during surveillance or intelligence operations.
Drones are also categorised by their range capability. This basically refers to how far away the drone is capable of flying from its user. Some models require longer ranges while others only need to be close by to fulfil their functions.
Close range drones have a range of around 5km to 50km and can stay in the air for roughly 20 minutes to 6 hours depending on the model types. Short range drones can be controlled from 150km away and can stay airborne for up to 12 hours while mid-range drones can be used from as far away as 650km.
Multi Rotor Drones – These are considered among the most common types of drones used by both professionals and hobbyists for basic applications from aerial photography to video surveillance. They are typically easy to manufacture and are the cheapest option among the many other models. Quadcopters (drones with 4 rotors positioned at the ends of a square body) are seen as the most recognisable models in the market today.
Fixed Wing Drones – These pretty much resemble aeroplanes and are designed with wings that enable them to move (sometimes by guide control). Their capabilities are often limited by the energy source they store and they never use energy to float in the air (like most other drone types).
Single rotor drones – These have a single large rotor which is usually coupled with a smaller rotor on the tail of the drone. They resemble tiny helicopters and are more efficient compared to multi-rotor alternatives. Downsides include higher complexity and operational risks as well as higher costs.
The ability to identify and differentiate between different drone models can be very important for many careers of the future and, as the growing demand for and applications of various drone models becomes more evident throughout many industries that are taking advantage of such technology, drones can help make whole industries more efficient. Professionals dedicated to the art and science behind working with drones should equip themselves and skill up in order to meaningfully impact their respective fields.