There are many sizes and styles of drones on the market, some are toys for flying in the backyard, some are a little more advanced, and some are targeted toward the commercial community. These are the types of machines that deliver goods and carry infrared cameras for inspections. As with near any drone segment, there are also a great bunch of drones here for search and rescue teams to save lives. These are the best commercial drones.
If you are looking for a professional drone, a machine for tasks like film making, we recommend checking out our Best professional drones list instead. You don’t have to fly a drone for work to enjoy these machines, but most do come with a hefty price. Join us for a list of some of the best commercial drones.
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The scope of commercial drones is very wide. Small drones with infrared cameras can perform inspection tasks, a basic consumer drone can scan a farmer’s fence line, all the way up to the helicopter sized passenger drones. We will discuss larger drones as we go, but we will try to stick to machines that weigh less than 55 lbs for this list.
You can fly these drones at home for fun, but please remember that if you are being paid to fly, you need to have your Part 107 license in the United States. We’re working on our content, our drone pilot training, or you can hit up our preferred training provider Drone Pilot Ground School.
DJI Matrice line
From our Best camera drones list
There are several drone frames in the Matrice line from DJI. Starting with the M100 series, designed for developers to make what they need and test ideas and parts. Followed by the new M200 series, that includes the most versatile camera mounting we’ve seen to date. Operate up to 3 simultaneous cameras at a time, with 4 possible mounting options.
Finally, the M600 series are the big ones. These are the payload kings in the Matrice line, able to carry heavy cameras for professional video shoots.
While we wait for the M200 series to hit the market, check out the big DJI M600 for $3,999 on Amazon today.
We’ve been wanting to get this drone on this list for a while now. We had a look at this machine in January, now it’s on store shelves and ready to rock. Based on the Typhoon frame, this hexacopter is designed for the commercial pilot. Interchangeable cameras are the name of the game, swap through a number of high-end shooters for various aerial needs.
Professional machines come at a cost, and the Yuneec H520 is one of the lower starting point machines in the segment. You’ll need $1,999 to get started, then around $1000 each for the cameras.
Update: Yuneec has added new value to the H520 by bundling Pix4Dcapture software.
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise
The DJI Mavic 2 platform is proving powerful and versatile with the addition of the Mavic 2 Enterprise. The easiest way to explain this machine is if you take a DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, add in ADS-B support, 24GB of encrypted internal storage and then add a mount for a few accessories on top. Those accessories include a high-visibility beacon to satisfy long range visibility requirements, a loudspeaker to play short messages, and a spotlight that is about as bright as the high beams on a car. A package that is ideal for search and rescue operations, if nothing else.
The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise has a starting price of $1999, and there is a Fly More kit available with extra batteries and more.
Drone legal and safety
FreeFly Alta 8
Introduced on this list, also on our Best camera drones list
The FreeFly Alta 8 is a massive drone with a huge payload. Measuring almost 4 feet across, the Alta 8 can pack up to 26 lbs of gear, including the batteries and such – so only about 20 lbs of camera. While FreeFly promotes themselves as film enthusiasts, the Alta packs an optional top mount for your camera. We introduced this idea with the DJI M200 series recently, but FreeFly has had it for a time already. Commercial drone pilots will be able to inspect the underbelly of bridges with either of these options.
If you are looking for a little less payload and a smaller drone, the FreeFly Alta 6 is a hexacopter take on the same air frame.
There is a lighter Alta 6 as well, if this is too much, but drones of this caliber come at a price, look to spend about $17,495.00 on the FreeFly Alta 8 on Amazon today. The FreeFly Alta 6 is $11,995 on Amazon.
DJI AGRAS MG-1S
Introduced on this list
Not a friendly name for a drone, but this friend to farmers wasn’t really made to be flashy. The DJI AGRAS MG-1S hauls around a 10L tank, the attached precision spray system puts the drone to work flying a pattern over crops to deliver the necessary fluids to grow our food. Aside from minimizing trauma to the plants from foot traffic or tractors running over top, the farmer can get a new perspective of the health of their field while the drone does all the hard work.
The benefit to the DJI AGRAS MG-1S for any user is the advanced RTK GPS. Most of us are comfortable with GPS tracking our mobile phones or camera drones to within a foot or two, the AGRAS MG-1S is accurate to within a few centimeters. DJI also provides ground station software to best create routes and programs for your flight. If autonomous flight is your goal, this is a difficult drone to beat for ease and precision.
The AGRAS MG-1S will not fit in your backpack, however, as it measures nearly 5 feet across when fully deployed. The DJI AGRAS MG-1S is a custom order type of machine, you’ll need to contact them for specific pricing, but expect a starting point of around $15,000.
Parrot Disco-Pro AG
Built with crop inspection needs in mind, the Parrot Disco-Pro AG is an updated Disco for longer flights, greater range and higher end cameras. Able to put multiple cameras over 200 acres on a charge with the same 1.2 mile operational range, the Disco-Pro AG also uses Pix4D or Airinov First+ for mapping solutions of your crops.
Higher and faster flying, grab the Parrot Disco-Pro AG for $4,800
The folks at Atlas Dynamics have a take on your commercial drone needs, they want you to buy their mostly autonomous tricopter, the Atlas Pro. Combined with a fully powered and self-managed dock, Atlas Pro can be set to fly itself, land itself and dock in out of the weather until it’s time to fly again. This hands-off autonomous approach is a little early for most markets, but at least we know that they’re ready to rock once the FAA releases them.
Related: Best drones of InterDrone
High-speed flight, great battery life and a planned selection of camera options to satisfy your agriculture or infrastructure inspection, security and other needs. This well-built machine is one to watch out for.
Intel Falcon 8+
Intel’s Falcon 8 and Falcon 8+ have been flying the skies for some fun inspection projects around the globe. These are not the sort of drones you pick up cheap and fly in your backyard, but if you are serious about inspection services, or other high flying, high-end camera needs, the Falcon 8+ could be the drone for you. More than just a drone, Intel Insight is a powerful software package that takes your images from the sky and performs magic on them. Well, maybe not magic, but creating a full 3D map out of stills is fairly slick.
3D mapping is only the start, Intel Insight is designed to assist in the inspection process. The software is able to identify and highlight any changes of an object after you collect subsequent scans. At InterDrone 2017 we watched as the drone scanned the facade of a building, changes were then made, removing screws and lights, etc. The second scan was able to identify these changes. The idea is to automate much of the menial work, place that info in front of a human who can then decide to repair or ignore the real world object.
We do not have a price tag for the Intel Falcon 8+ drone, but we’ve heard the number $42,000.00 floating around. A small price to pay if you need these sorts of tools.
We’re not saying that being in the military makes you a professional, but, it sort of does, doesn’t it? If you are looking for something more than your standard camera rig or quadcopter, maybe one of our list of military drones can help.
The average drone pilot cannot take to the sky in the large passenger drones, but can certainly be a passenger alongside a higher licensed pilot. Check out some of the best passenger drones over on our dedicated list for the topic.
Commercial drones Wrap-up
That’s all we have for today, I hope you can see the value in the various drone options presented. If nothing else, I hope we’ve given you a sense of the types of industries and workloads that drones are supporting today. We did not discuss passenger drones, nor did we get into law enforcement and military equipment – we tried to stick to drones that you can actually go to a store and purchase, even the ones that the average pilot can’t afford.
Is there a commercial or professional drone that you think should have been on this list? Which of these pro drones would you like to play with for a non-pro flight?