Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or simply drones, are becoming more and more common these days and they offer a wide range of uses. There are the small and unique drones that are simply for the fun of flying a remote-controlled toy while there are also consumer drones for hobbyists. Then there are the industrial and rescue drones that serve more important purposes.
In this quick guide, we give you the manufacturers and companies behind these technologies and list down some of their popular models.
DJI has been leading the consumer drone segment thanks to the success of their Phantom series. The most advanced from the current lineup is the Phantom 4 Pro which boasts a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor that shoots 4K resolution at 60fps. Burst Mode photos can reach up to 14 frames per second to effectively capture action shots. The P4 Pro has also been equipped with a 5-direction obstacle sensors to intelligently navigate it out of harm’s way. Battery-wise, it has a claimed 30-minute flight time and local price starting at about Php74K.
For those who prefer something more portable, the Mavic Pro is one of the best camera drones in the market right now. It combines performance and portability by packing in a 12-megapixel camera with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor in a foldable body that you can effortlessly squeeze into a handbag. Using its 3-axis gimbal, it can shoot up to 4K videos but frame rate maxes out at 30fps. Obstruction sensors are placed facing down and up front to minimize unwanted crashes. With a local price starting at Php54K, it can go as far as 7km away and battery is rated with a 27-minute lifespan before you need to land and charge it again.
Moving on, the recently-announced Matrice 200 is an all-weather drone that can take on even near-freezing temperatures. This drone isn’t your ordinary consumer product. It is an industrial tool made for search and rescue operations, inspection of constructions, and the likes. It has an IP43 rating which makes it capable of withstanding some rain without destroying its internals. Additionally, DJI boasts that its batteries can warm themselves up so performance isn’t affected when operated in cold temperatures.
Just like the Mavic Pro, the Matrice 200 can go as far as 7km in distance. It is also capable of carrying gear up to 2kg and can fly for up to 38 minutes. It still isn’t available for purchase as of the time of writing.
GoPro has introduced its first-ever drone towards the end of last year and called it Karma. A few weeks after it launched, it was pulled out of store shelves due to the power loss mishap but, after a almost three months, it was once again available for purchase as they try to put the bad karma behind them.
Basically, the GoPro Karma uses the company’s action cameras to bring up in the air and shoot. It is compatible with the latest Hero5 and Hero5 Black as well as the older Hero4 Black and Silver. Apart from the main camera which is detachable, its 3-axis gimbal also comes off and transforms into an independent steady camera that you can use while walking, biking, skating, and more. The Karma is priced at $799.99 without a GoPro camera and $1099.99 with a Hero5 Black.
Parrot manufactures a wide array of electronics ranging from audio, car kits, business solutions, even connected garden, and drones. We’ve been fans of their products all the way from the Parrot Mini Drone and Jumping Sumo to the more recent DISCO FPV.
The DISCO FPV is the company’s attempt to veer away from the usual quad-propeller design of drones and instead, went for a fixed-wing approach with a nose camera for recording aerial footage. As its name suggests, it goes to pair with a VR headset so you can ‘fly’ with the drone FPV (first-person view) style. It can go as fast as 80km/h without losing stability and has a 45-min flight time on a single charge. It is now priced at $999.99 from its original tag of $1299.99.
A more affordable alternative for first-person flying is the Bebop 2 FPV. It takes on a much common form factor with its quad propellers but video resolution is the same as DISCO and maxes out at Full HD. It’s got a shorter flight time of around 25 minutes but also boasts an immersive flying experience. It has an original price of $699.99 but a $100-discount brings down its price to $599.99.
If an easy to use, hassle-free, 4K drone is what interests you, you might be looking for the Breeze. The Yuneec Breeze is designed for convenience both in operation and portability. It has a compact build and is lightweight at under 1 pound making it a no-fuss camera to bring around. The company integrated five automated flight modes including Selfie, Orbit, and Follow Me, among others. Finally, to make it safe, it sports an optical flow and infrared positioning sensors so it can steadily hover in one spot without the fear of drifting away. It can be yours for $500.
For serious users who demand to produce professional-grade footage, the Typhoon H claims to be able to do the job and at the same time, not cost you an arm and a leg. Launched at CES, it promises to deliver Hollywood-class output with its camera being able to rotate in full 360 degrees. Another thing to note about the Typhoon H is it’s now a hexa-copter with six rotors instead of the previous four. A basic sense and avoid technology is embedded at its core and uses ultrasonic proximity detection to avoid obstacles. It has an international price of $1799.
3DR (3D Robotics)
3DR or 3D Robotics specializes in providing business solutions and Site Scan is a part of it. For the unfamiliar, the company describes Site Scan as a complete drone data platform that includes a fully autonomous drone, top-notch camera, and a personal cloud to quickly process the data needed.
The workflow starts with the drone launching and using its Sony UMC-R10C camera which is an industry-leading sensor from the Japanese company. The Site Scan iOS app can then be used to survey the site for any updates and/or overlaying of plans. This practice ultimately saves time and avoids extra costs due to overruns and reworks by quickly presenting the facts to the team leaders and being able to quickly make decisions based on the data.