types of drones

Types of Drones – What are the different variations and how do they work

Drones at this point in time have passed the test of time. The technology that goes into their development is limitless, and their performance is seamless. There currently exists countless different types of drones on the market, and they come with any feature imaginable. However, the following four types of drones are the primary designs under which all drones are developed from.

MULTI-ROTOR

Description

These copters are the most common drones by manufacture and commercial use. There is not much technicality in operating them as their structure and configuration make them easy to handle, which is not a common phenomenon to the other drone types. They have multiple propeller blades that spin in apposing directions. There are 4 primary configurations: Tri-Copter (3 Blades), Quadcopter (4 Blades), Hexacopter (6 Blades), Octacopter (8 Blades). Within these configurations there are also deviations. Such as the X8 for example. Where it is a 8 rotor craft by nature, configured as a quadcopter where each boom has 2 propellers (one on top and one on bottom).

Pros

Of the four drone types, this one is perfect for an eagle eye experience, making it ideal for photography, doing aerial inspections and leisure. They are less expensive, convenient, and perfect for amateurs since controlling them is generally easy. They also deserve credit for their speed and high precision during in-flight placement. The stability and ease of flight can be accredited to the advancements in flight control technology.

Cons

They have a limited battery life, translating to an inadequate flight time. They are restricted to electric motors as their source of power since gas engines are unsuitable for powering such kind of equipment. Although recent innovations have gas powered multi-rotors in the works.

Multi-rotors have a price range of $300 for the basic ones and can go for high as $65,000+ for professional ones.

FIXED WING DRONES

Description

When you hear of a fixed-wing drone, think of a very tiny a commercial jet. They are designed to work with the same concept as airplanes. The wings provide lift against the wind just like regular planes and they only move forward. Fixed wing drones are well known in the military scene where the term drone was founded. These military drones such as the famous predator are capable of long range flights at hight altitudes. Small commercial UAV fixed wing drones are becoming popular due to their long endurance capabilities.

Pros

They center their energy to aiding them in advancing thus being more efficient. For this reason, they can stay up in the air for a longer period (some up to 16 hours or more). These drone types can also use gas engines making them ideal for long distance gliding.

Cons

One of their biggest disadvantages is its incapability to hover in the spot. They are thus not suitable for such work as aerial photography or applications where portability is a necessity. The commercial variants can be very expensive owing to their complexity in structure and technology.  They are not convenient for use in confined areas. Some need either a runway or a catapult for both lift off and landing.

To get one commercial fixed wing drone off the ground can set you back $5,000 to $120,000+

SINGLE ROTOR HELICOPTER

As the name suggests, this drone has one rotor to hold it up, plus a tail rotor to govern its heading. They can be powered by gas motors. They have enough strength to hover around carrying heavy stuff for an extended period.

Pros

These drones are built to endure. They have a heavier payload capacity than any other drone and have great hover flight capabilities. It is perfect for Aerial LIDAR laser scanning.

Cons

These drone types are very expensive regarding acquisition and maintenance costs; it is considerably hard to master how to fly it and very dangerous. The structural integrity does not justify its pricing.

To acquire one will set you back $25,000 for a low-cost option and up to $120,000 for a high-end product.

 

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FIXED WING HYBRID

Features

Unlike the single and multiple rotor UAVs. This drone can hover, is capable of vertical take off and landing yet has almost the same endurance as a fixed wing craft.  There are various kinds of this drone. The core ones being VTOL that uses fixed wings with vertical lift motors to fly. The VTOL can lift off vertically. Once airborne the rotors can tilt horizontal propelling the craft into forward flight.

Pros

They can stay up for an extended period and have VTOL capabilities. Even though these drone types are still under development, recent advancement in the field has probed an attention shift to them. A good example of this drone is Amazon’s Prime Air.

Cons

This UAV is neither perfect at hovering nor forward flight. Most of its stand-out features are still under development, and it is still early to tell its success potential.

Perfect for making drone deliveries, this UAV has not yet been widely inherited for commercial purposes.

You may also be interested in our Drone Definition post here

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