There are many types of drones which consumers can choose from today. We give a rundown of each below.
Before we get started we just want to make the obvious clarification here that these are all drones that regular people like you and I can buy. There are many other types of drone that specific businesses or Governments can buy, for example military drones, but that doesn’t really fit into what we’re talking about here.
Let’s get into it!
The 6 Types of Drones
Mini drones are super small, even for drones, and some would fit right into the palm of your hand. They are generally easy to fly and convenient for beginners who are still learning the ropes about how to fly a drone.
More to that, they are often affordable and cost less than $100 in some cases. Despite that fact, some still come with cameras, so pilots need not miss out on the chance at stellar aerial shots.
Drone newbies tend to get left hanging in terms of information and training material online. With mini drones however, you can quickly get up to speed on what to expect when flying your own drone.
Mini drones (Sometimes called Nano drones) are a safe entry level choice you can try first, before making your way upwards and onwards to more challenging drone models.
And this is so for 2 main reasons:
Not only are they reasonably priced (you don’t want your inexperienced, newbie hands on a machine that costs thousands of dollars), they are also very durable and can usually withstand a fair few crashes.
They are therefore the perfect option for anyone who wishes to work on their flying technique before upgrading to a more serious choice of UAV.
Mini drones are known for their small, light-weight finishes, as a result of being constructed entirely of plastic.
Before you cringe at that fact, you need to understand that this is what makes them so sturdy in the first place. Mini drones are crash-proof because of this very fact.
Another advantage that comes with these drones is that they don’t cost an arm and a leg to repair in the unlikely event that they take crash damage.
So, even though these pint sized drones don’t come with the all the gimmicks which their larger, more sophisticated counterparts have, they pack a lot of benefits that make them a worthy purchase nonetheless.
Some of their essential features worth taking note of include:
- Mini drones usually come compact and ready for use right from the first minute
- Mini drones take only about an hour to charge fully. And this is just as well since a fully charged mini drone will fly for about six to eight minutes
- Mini drones come with fully functional remote controls that allow pilots to command their direction during flight and also influence them to do stunts in mid air.
- Mini drones are mostly designed to be flown indoors. But a few models do fly well outside, provided the day is calm and there is no wind
- Some mini drones come equipped with cameras that are capable of taking videos, still photos, and even providing first-person-view footage
There are many great mini drones out there which you can choose from. But a good choice you can start looking is the Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini Drone or any of the selections from our Best Drones for Children list.
Hobby drones are those that fit in a nice juicy middle between toys and professional-level UAVs. These are ideal for those that want to enjoy using drones but have some real use cases for them outside of just flying for the fun of it, such as taking photos, recording videos, or even having races.
Hobby drones are mid-sized machines that come with large propellers and larger frames compared to mini drones. They are built to be flown outdoors and usually range in price from $100 to $800. Most probably max out at $500, but there are always some better options for hobbyists with a lot of money in the bank.
Many of these drones come with cameras, and this makes them really popular with those who want some aerial photography while they walk about outdoors.
It should be noted that the quality of resolution on these machines won’t be as good as some of the stunning aerial photography you’ll have likely seen on Instagram, but that’s obvious isn’t it? You wouldn’t expect to become a professional photographer with a $200 camera and this is no different.
Hobby drones have been becoming increasingly popular, and this trend looks likely to continue over the next few years.
Having a drone with a HD camera a decade ago belonged to the same science fiction category as Star Wars, back then. Now things are more advanced and more affordable, and we as consumers get to take advantage of that.
In spite of all the drone laws put in place to regulate them, the number of registered hobbyist drone pilots continues to rise. More and more people are turning to these drones to experience for themselves what it means to have total control of an aircraft.
Some of the more common features include:
- Significant control distance of over 100 meters
- Ability to perform many tricks and maneuvers like flips and headless mode for some models
- Cameras and a memory card for storing pictures and videos
- They can be flown both indoors and outdoors, and many models are wind resistant
- For stability during flight, many are equipped with a gyro stabilization system
- They are lightweight, yet durable
There are many drone models available today which can be described as hobby drones. And each of these comes with their own features and perks necessary to give it an edge over the others.
Features like Headless Mode, One Key Takeoff, Altitude Hold, and others are quite common.
You can look for the features that appeal to you most before you make a purchase.
Features that you’ll probably find in most of these types of drone are:
- Auto-Takeoff: Professional drones allow you to hit a button to switch on its motors and propellers so that it rises to a pre-set height. It will then hover at that point until you give further directives on where to go.
- Return Home: This is a GPS-enabled feature that enables your drone to remember the spot from which it took off. You can have your professional drone turn back and return to that same spot at any time, by pushing the appropriate button.
- Follow Me: You’re likely to get a basic version of Follow Me, where the drone will automatically follow whereever the transmitter goes.
Professional drones offer a lot more than hobbyist drones do in terms of technology. They come with lots of features that support professional grade aerial photography and other perks like longer flight times and better capabilities.
Prices usually start at $700 for lower cost professional models, and extend into the thousands for higher end models. The DJI Matrice 600 Pro, as an extreme example, has a recommended retail price of over $5,500.
Professional drones are frequently a reflection of the state of technology available to consumer drones.
Buying one can endow you with the ability to capture high quality aerial video and stunning photos, making them a great addition to any professional’s video arsenal.
This is especially true if you happen to work in a field that relies on photography like survey, mining, real estate, or photography.
Not only professionals stand to gain by investing in these advanced machines, though. Even amateurs with fewer hours of practice can benefit from the stunning footage the cameras on these machines can provide, potentially turning into a business idea from nowhere.
With a professional-grade drone, you can take aerial shots and footage that will leave everyone amazed on a vacation. And the more you master flying these drones, the more fun you can get from them.
Because professional drones are GPS enabled, it makes them a breeze to pilot and control for anybody determined to learn.
Being GPS-enabled also means that they come with a host of other enjoyable features like Follow Me mode which programs the drone to follow its user, waypoint navigation that enables autonomous flight, and so on.
Key autopilot features that come with professional drones include:
- Follow Me: You’re able to get advanced Follow Me functionality with professional drones. This feature will allow your drone to follow you based on facial recognition, or using other systems to follow specific things.
- Waypoints: Waypoints are specific points you can assign importance to for your drone. Once your way points are set, you can instruct your drone automatic instructions to carry out at each waypoint.
- Points of Interest: Many professional drone models allow you to choose to a location or object for it to focus on, so that it will continuously face it no matter how you fly.
- Fail Safe: If the drone’s battery is running low or the device suddenly loses its connection to the controller in your hand, it will automatically return to the takeoff point and safely land.
- Follow Me: Some professional drone models come with a Follow Me feature that enables it to follow you the pilot wherever you go, filming you if you like.
Because of the many professional grade features that professional drones bring and the fact that they can easily be adapted to consumer purposes, they are often referred to as “prosumer” drones.
Two highest rated popular models available on the market are the and the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Other models that are popular among drone fans are the EVO drone from Autel Robotics and the Parrot Anafi, which has a number of variants.
Selfie drones are small, compact, and are usually foldable which makes then great to carry around — even to travel with. Because they are made specifically for taking the perfect picture, you can expect their cameras to be up to par and easy to use.
You can also fly them indoors and outdoors, meaning you never have to be left lacking when the perfect opportunity for a selfie arises. It also helps that these drones are easily deployed and ready to fly straight from the box.
Prices for these drones range from $100 to $800 based on the quality of the camera and product features that are available.
This class of drones can be considered new as compared to others, but it is only a matter of time before they become one of the most popular drone types. After all, anything with a camera eventually gets used for a selfie sooner or later.
As drone racing rises in popularity, so too have the devices that actually do the racing.
Racing drones are small, agile, lightweight, and built for speed (over aesthetics in many cases). Some racing drone pilots prefer to build their racers, while others prefer to buy them ready to fly.
If you have ever wondered what it is like pitting yourself against other drone racers, relying solely on FPV then there are drones specifically for that.
Flying a racing drone requires practice, though, even if you are an experienced drone pilot. Consider the difference between a regular pilot and a racing pilot to be similar to the difference between a regular driver and a race car driver.
You will be surprised at how different racing drones are from standard consumer drones.
They are lighter, smaller, more agile in the air, offering a much different feel to the standard bulkier devices built for steady flight rather than speed and agility.
Racing drones are made from durable yet lightweight material as they sacrifice all else or speed of movement. So carbon fiber is frequently used in building them.
In addition to their hard bodies, they come with enthusiast-grade transmitters and receivers which remove any latency and input lag that might occur.
Some even come with mushroom antennas to ensure lag free controls and silky smooth live feed.
The true definition of a drone means any vehicle that is controlled remotely.
That means even ground based unmanned vehicles qualify (as do RC cars, boats, and a whole load of other things too).
Whilst we usually refer to UAVs as drones — Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — ground based drones (or unmanned ground vehicles) have been in use for many years, mainly being deployed for dangerous missions like demolition or de-mining.
Newer models are even being used as mules to carry equipment across dangerous terrain.
The majority of ground drones are in service to the military, and you would be hard pressed to find many in civilian circles.
However, we do have a favourite here at Dronesvilla — the DJI Robomaster S1. It’s a really exciting little ground drone as it has a variety of features and can even teach you to code.
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