The Best Drones for Roof Inspections in 2020

Last updated: 1st May 2020
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

Autel Robotics EVO

Autel Robotics EVO

Holy Stone HS720

Holy Stone HS720

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With the explosion of the consumer drone market, it wasn’t long before different industries started looking at this new technology to make the business a lot better.

A case in point is the roofing industry. Here drones can take the once tedious and time-consuming roof inspection process and make it much easier and safer.

But you don’t need to be a professional roofer to take advantage of this. If you’re a homeowner who just needs to do a quick check of your roof, there are lots of consumer drones that can you use for this.

To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of the top drone picks we think are great for roof inspections. First, let’s quickly cover some of the advantages of using a drone for inspecting a home.

Advantages of Using A Drone For Roof Inspections

Drones excel at inspecting anything inaccessible or dangerous for humans, and your roof definitely counts as one. Here are some of the advantages of using drones versus you doing it yourself

It’s safer and less physical

Roof inspections were once considered a mildly dangerous task, and with today’s safety gear, that has improved somewhat. But there is still a risk whenever you or someone else is climbing up your roof. 

A hundred things can go wrong – ladders can fall or break, or an excessively weak roof might give way, leading to accidents.

Using drones is much safer. Now you can just stay at ground level and simply fly your drone up to take a look; no ladders or harnesses necessary. It’s so safe that just about anyone can inspect their own roof, even those who are physically handicapped.

It’s also less physically draining. You can technically do a roof inspection with a drone while sitting on your porch with a drink on hand. 

It’s faster

Climbing up to look at your roof used to be a time-consuming process. First, you need to prepare a lot in terms of safety equipment, like ladders and harnesses. Then you need to check every last part of your roof manually. The bigger the area you need to cover, the longer this takes.

With a drone, it’s just a matter of launching it in the air, and you can instantly take a look at the problem areas. Depending on the level of detail you want and the size of your roof, this can take anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes.

If you’re a professional roof inspector, then the time saved is much more profound. It can definitely make a difference to your bottom line.

It’s much more convenient

Climbing up and inspecting a roof takes a lot of preparation time. A drone is much easier to set up and can be deployed in a moment’s notice, assuming it’s fully charged.

You can begin inspecting your roof within minutes of thinking about it, versus the minutes, hours or even days you need to wait if you hired someone to do it for you

It gives you a better overview

The problem with manually inspecting your roof is that you can only see a small portion of the entire thing. For smaller houses, this isn’t much of an issue. But this problem is greatly exacerbated for bigger properties.

A drone gives you much more flexibility when viewing your roof.

You can zoom out and have a broader overview of your entire roof, so you can spot problem areas immediately. Then you can just zoom in to see these specific areas in greater detail.

This saves you much more time than having to manually comb through the entire thing, looking for the problem spots.

It’s non-intrusive to your roof

The most significant disadvantage of manually inspecting your roof is that it’s a very intrusive process. It involves you stepping on the actual roof itself, which can cause potential damage or worsen the already poor state it’s already in.

By employing a drone, you don’t need to physically touch the roof to inspect it. This can help preserve your it, especially if it’s already in a very fragile state.

It costs less long-term

Using a drone to inspect your roof can end up being cheaper in the long run.

You can find a decent drone nowadays to do roof inspections for less than $300. You can even offer this service to your neighbors and friends to further stretch the value of your investment.

If you’re doing roof inspections for a living, then this an even easier, no brainer choice.

Paying for a drone upfront is much more cost-effective than hiring labor every time you need to do manual inspections. Employing someone also presents specific health hazards to your worker. If an accident occurs, you’ll end up paying for expensive healthcare. This is something that a drone eliminates entirely.

Everyone can see it

The great thing about using drones to do roof inspections is that everyone can see it. You and a certified professional can view the drone’s footage together, and not just trust in verbal descriptions alone.

For professionals, it’s also a good idea to share the drone footage to clients. You’re can better explain the problem to them visually, and this improves your professionalism and credibility.

It makes rooftop measurements much more accurate

Manually measuring a rooftop will always introduce some human error into the equation. And if this error is significant, then you’ll have to do measure it again, which can be costly in terms of money and manpower.

Drones give you the ability to make much more precise measurements of your roof. Footage acquired from your drone is combined with mapping software to produce results that are up to 99% accurate, in minutes rather than days.

It can give you access to more advanced tools

Some drones allow you to carry advanced tools that are otherwise inaccessible through manual inspections. These tools help you gather more data and information that help you make better-informed decisions. 

One example is the use of a thermal camera. This camera can detect subtle temperature changes that human eyes can’t, useful for inspecting the roof with solar panels.

The Best Drones for Roof Inspections

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DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

Our top pick for the best drone for roof inspections is the Mavic 2 Zoom from DJI.

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DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
  • Flight Time: 31 minutes
  • Range: 8 kilometers
  • Camera: 4K resolution at 30 fps; 48-MP super resolution stills
  • Take-off Weight: 905g
  • Gimbal: 3-Axis

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If there’s a drone built for roof inspections, it’s the Mavic 2.
Usually, when we’re talking about DJI’s flagship drone, the Mavic 2 Pro generally wins over the Mavic 2 Zoom with its more powerful camera.

But when it comes to roof inspection, the Zoom has a bit of an advantage. Where the Pro has more power, the Zoom has plenty more flexibility when executing aerial shots.

That advantage is in its namesake – the ability to zoom in. The drone is capable of up to 4x lossless zoom, including 2x optical zoom. The video remains clear even when you zoom in.

The effect of this is that it makes faraway objects appear much closer. In the case of roofing, the drone doesn’t need to come in as close to capture every detail of your roof, allowing a safe distance.

The fantastic zoom camera supports FPV mode exceedingly well. The range and video transmission of the Mavic 2 are unlike any other drone – 1080p HD live steaming up to 8 km away. This makes the Zoom one of the few drones you need if you’re inspecting the roof of really tall or large buildings.

Mavic 2 Zoom also has the longest flight time out of any consumer or commercial drone – 31 minutes. For large properties or projects, this is one of the few drones that can keep up with you.

In terms of intelligent flight modes, the Mavic 2 Zoom has plenty that will be of great help to roof inspections. Points of Interest and Waypoints are two of the best ones.

DJI’s Waypoint mode, in particular, also allows you to set interest points in addition to waypoints. So the effect is that your drone will follow the path but will focus the camera to each point of interest – great for concentrating on specific parts of the roof.

Overall, if you’re a roofing professional who needs a powerful drone to do inspections for you, the Mavic 2 Zoom is — in our opinion — your best choice.

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+ Pros

+ Sensational 4x lossless zoom (including 2x optical zoom)
+ Intelligent obstacle avoidance for in-flight protection
+ Stunning video panoramas
+ Live 1080p HD video feed via DJI controller

- Cons

Autel Robotics EVO

A solid challenger to the Mavic 2, the EVO from Autel Robotics comes in at a slightly lower price.

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Autel Robotics EVO
  • Flight Time: ~30 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~210 minutes
  • Range: 7050m / 4.4 miles
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 2.4GHz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 3-axis gimbal 4K 60fps camera with 12MP
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 7000m / 4.3 miles
  • Weight: 863g / 1.9lbs
  • Carry Capacity: N/A
  • Working Temperature: 0°C ~ 40°C
  • Rated for outdoor use

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The Autel EVO is a rugged adventure drone that has all the power and features to make an outstanding roof inspection drone.

First, the EVO is a pretty durable drone. It can withstand strong winds easily. It can even survive a few drizzles of rain, which is an ever-present risk when doing roof inspections.

The drone features a powerful 4K UHD camera that can capture stills at 12 megapixels. It’s mounted on a 3-axis gimbal that does a fantastic job at stabilizing footage shot by the camera.

This allows you to capture ultra-crisp and detailed photos and videos of your roof, giving you the best view of its current state.

The FPV is fluid as well, transmitting a high-res 1080p HD live feed of your drone’s perspective. You can view this FPV even when the EVO is up to 7 km away – an extremely long-range that’s great for inspecting larger houses with ease.

The battery of the EVO also allows it up to 30 minutes of flight. That’s plenty of time right there to thoroughly inspect small to medium houses, or multiple properties if you’re a professional roofer.

Then you have the many robust automated flight features of the EVO. Almost all of them – Waypoint, Viewpoint, and Orbit – are all indispensable when doing roof inspections.

Waypoint works great, just like any other drone on the market. You can even save paths so you can repeat them again and again with pinpoint accuracy. Orbit also makes flying circles around your roof easy with just a single click.

The Viewpoint mode is also interesting, as well. It’s similar to FPV mode in that you can see a first-person view of what your drone sees. But here, you can simply tap to any point of your screen, and the EVO will automatically move and focus on that point.

Viewpoint Mode makes it easy to frame the shot. In the case of roof inspections, you can simply tap on a specific area of your roof, and the EVO will move and frame that area.

If you want a robust and able drone to do roofing inspections, the Autel EVO is a solid choice and an excellent alternative to a DJI.

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+ Pros

+ Follow Me modes are great for taking awesome looking shots autonomously
+ Stunning video quality thanks to the powerful 4K camera onboard
+ Sensors and safety features like obstacle avoidance keep your drone and others around you safe

- Cons

- Can be tricky for beginners to pick up straight away

Holy Stone HS720

26 minutes of battery life and brushless motors give this foldable drone reliable, long-lasting performance.

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Holy Stone HS720
  • Flight Time: ~26 minutes
  • Charge Time: 5-7 hours
  • Range: 800-1000m / 2624-3277ft
  • Remote Controller: 2.4GHz transmitter included
  • Camera: 2K HD (2048 x 1152) with shock absorption
  • Weight: 459g / 1.01lbs
  • Rated for outdoor use

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The Holy Stone HS720 is an affordable drone for the homeowner that wants a long term solution for a roof inspection. The drone itself is a portable flyer that folds down to a compact frame.

For one, it definitely has the staying power necessary for a roof inspection drone. It’s equipped with smart batteries that provide energy for the HS720 to fly for up to 26 minutes. This is courtest of the brushless motors that are not only less power-hungry but also last longer.

You also have a range that’s a little below 1km. It might be shorter than what we’ve seen with other roof inspection drones, but for the casual homeowner, this is more than what is required.

The camera is exceptional for the price, giving crisp 2K HD resolution. The equipped shock absorption holder does a swell job at making the live video smoother, but a 3-axis gimbal is much more effective.

A well-received safety feature of the HS720 is GPS Return To Home, which instructs the drone to land in its origin point in case of critical battery levels – so, you know, it doesn’t come crashing down on your roof.

The onboard GPS also powers many of the HS720’s smart flight modes, like Custom Path, which you can use much like ou would Waypoint or Orbit mode.

You’ll also get stable positioning, intuitive flight controls, and quiet operation out of this drone. Overall, the Holy Stone HS720 makes it our cut of the best roof inspection drones out there.

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+ Pros

+ Foldable for handy transportation
+ Premium feel at an affordable price
+ Staggering battery life

- Cons

- Slow charge time
- No spare parts

Parrot Anafi Base

The cheapest of our top 3 recommended roof inspection drones, the Anafi is still a top quality choice.

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Parrot Anafi Base
  • Flight Time: ~25 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~240 minutes
  • Range: 4000m / 2.5mi
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 5.4GHz & 2.4Ghz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 180° adjustable f/2.4 ASPH lens 4K Camera with 21MP
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 4000m / 2.5mi
  • Weight: 320g / 11.28oz
  • Working Temperature: -10°C to 40°C
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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If you’re looking for a more compact and nimble drone for your roof inspections, you can go for the Parrot Anafi. While not as powerful as the drones we have covered thus far, it makes up for it with nimbleness and flexibility.

The Parrot’s camera can record at a robust 4K resolution and up to 21 megapixels for stills. This is enough juice to capture detailed photos and videos of your roof for post-analysis.

This drone’s camera also has a 3-axis gimbal that’s adjustable by up to 180 degrees and a 2.8x lossless digital zoom. These combined give you lots of flexibility to frame shots easily, which is a definite help in quickly focusing on critical areas of your roof, or viewing hard to reach places.

The range and longevity of the Anafi is also an advantage for prolonged roof inspections. It has a flight time of 25 minutes, even with the camera turned on continuously. The transmission range is at a long 4 km, which is more than enough for most inspection needs.

One useful feature of the Anafi is its flight speed of up to 55 km/h, allowing you to fly around the rooftops at efficient speeds. It’s not a total deal-breaker by any means, but still a helpful ability to have.

For smart flight modes, the Anafi has quite a few. You have the mainstay Orbit mode, which is excellent for quickly instructing the drone to circle around your roof. You also get lots of creative modes like Parabola and Dolly Zoom.

But a favorite one we use during roof inspections is Cameraman Mode. Using Anafi’s visual tracking system, you select your roof to be the main point of interest. You can then move around freely, while Anafi keeps the camera focused on that same spot.

This is great for taking different perspectives of the same area of your roof to see it from various angles.

Overall, the Parrot Anafi is a capable drone regardless if you’re a roofing professional or a casual homeowner. You get features that make it exceptionally easy to do complicated roof inspections.

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+ Pros

+ Very portable
+ Excellent GPS features
+ Superb camera
+ Very long range

- Cons

- Somewhat delicate — we recommend that you have some prior drone flying experience
- Reports of customer service related issues

UPair Two

The UPair 2 is one of the best value drones in the photography space, for both recreational and commercial use.

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UPair Two
  • Flight Time: 24 minutes
  • Camera: 3-eye camera system at 16 megapixels
  • Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch CMOS
  • Gimbal: 3-axis with adjustable pitch angle from -90 to 10 degrees
  • Weight: 1.5 kg

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If you fancy taking 3D videos of your roof inspections, then the UPair Two drone is a superb choice. But even if you don’t want (or need) this feature, this drone is still a keeper.

The unique thing about the UPair 2 is its 3-lens camera system. You get 4K UHD camera as the primary lens, flanked by two 2K FHD lenses.

This trio of lenses is capable of capturing video in high-resolution full stereoscopic 3D. Use an optional VR headset, and you can get vivid footage of your roof – as if it was right in front of you. Not really crucial, but wonderful to play around with.

The camera also has a 3-axis gimbal that supports tilting by up to 90 degrees. Not only does it make adjusting your roof inspection shots much more comfortable, but it also produces smoother, less jittery results.

This camera system also powers the exceptional FPV mode on this drone. It uses a 5.8G WiFi as the transmission medium, leading to a lag-free HD live video feed at distances of up to 1.2 km.

Battery life is also nothing to complain about. It gives a generous flight time of 24 minutes, which is about above average when we’re talking about roof inspection drones.

For intelligent flight modes, there’s only one that you’ll ever use with the UPair 2 – Flight Path Planning. This is basically Waypoint mode that makes the drone follow a path you set via waypoints, using GPS to maintain positional accuracy. Unfortunately, there’s no Orbit mode in this drone.

All in all, the UPair 2 is a robust flyer with enough of the basics covered to make it a capable roof inspection drone.

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+ Pros

+ 3 lens camera system gives a lot of power and flexibility
+ Easy to fly with lots of flight features
+ Relatively affordable compared to DJI or other drones

- Cons

- No obstacle avoidance

Ruko F11 Pro

Arguably the best drone around with these specs. A true competitor to the DJI Spark in this price bracket.

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Ruko F11 Pro
  • Flight Time: ~28 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~210 minutes
  • Range: 1219m / 4000ft
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 5GHz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 90°Adjustable 4K Camera with 13MP
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 500m / 1640.4ft
  • Weight: 520 g / 18.34 oz
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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For a roof inspection drone at a more affordable price, check out the Ruko F11 Pro. It’s a highly recommended flyer for homeowners who want to inspect their own roofs with a more budget-friendly drone.

Despite the lower price, however, the F11 Pro can still compete with the other drones on this list. It has a high-resolution 4K UHD camera with a wide-angle 120-degree FOV. The FOV is adjustable, giving a much easier way to frame your roof.

The powerful camera also gives you a crisp and clear FPV video, with transmission ranges of up to 1.2 km. At standard distances, this at least gives you a strong signal strength to work with.

The Ruko F11 Pro is also an endurance flyer, capable of an exceptional 30 minutes of flight time. And the great thing is that it includes a spare battery right out of the box – essentially stretching the flight time to 60 minutes. So you can take your time and survey your roof much more carefully; after all, you have plenty of time to spare!

This is actually one of the most significant selling points of the Ruko F11 – amazingly long flight time at a fraction of the cost.

For flight modes conducive for roof inspections, the Ruko F11 Pro has got the basics covered. Points of Interest Mode is here as well, although it has a maximum radius of only 100m, so it might not be that feasible for more significant properties.

Waypoint mode, called Tap Fly with the F11, works just like any other drone’s path mode. It allows you to lay up to 16 points to form a path that the drone will follow.

Other great things the F11 Pro has going on include easy takeoff and landing, precise GPS hold, and a compact foldable design.

All in all, the Ruko F11 is an affordable yet powerful drone that makes roof inspections accessible to just about any homeowner willing to give this one a spin.

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+ Pros

+ Full GPS automation
+ Extreme controller range
+ 4K video
+ Excellent 28-minute flight time

- Cons

- Mediocre app

Buyer’s Guide: Roof Inspection Drones

Technically, any drone with a camera can be used for roof inspections, but it’s not always practical. You need a few key features to make your inspections faster and much more straightforward.

Here a few factors you must consider:

Camera Quality

Having an exceptional camera is probably the most critical factor in a roof inspection drone. After all, these are the “eyes” you’ll rely on in the air, so they need to be as crisp and clear as possible.

Ideally, you want a camera that has at least 4K resolution and can stream FPV (First Person View) in 1080p HD. A camera mounted on a gimbal is also vital; without it, the footage will become very shaky, making it hard to see roof details clearly.

For taking pictures, go for a camera with at least 16 megapixels, with 20 megapixels being the gold standard.

You also want a camera that supports optical zooming and an adjustable lens. Both of these features will make framing shots easier at different angles without needing to move the drone around excessively.

FPV

Next to the camera, this is an absolute must-have feature. First Person View (FPV) mode allows you to see what the drone’s camera is seeing in real-time. It’s mostly like being inside the drone itself and looking from its perspective.

It will be tough, even next to impossible, to do roof inspections without FPV. You most likely can’t see the roof from ground level, so you’re basically flying your drone blind. Imagine doing that with a 3 story house.

When it comes to FPV, what you’re concerned with is the transmission range. You want the video feed to be as real-time as possible, so any delay is unacceptable. Drones with shorter FPV range will have lower signal strength, making it more prone to interference and lag.

Flight Time

A drone that can’t fly for longer than 20 minutes is virtually useless for roof inspections. You can still make it work, but it will end up taking longer to perform. Beats the purpose of using a drone to save time, doesn’t it?

The bigger the roof you need to inspect, the longer flight time you need. A drone that can fly for upwards of 25 minutes is what you want here.

It’s also a great idea to carry around a spare battery or two, in case you need to extend your inspection runs. This is especially vital if you do roof inspections professionally.

Make sure the battery is easy to swap and can be recharged externally, to keep your workflow smooth.

Range

Range tells you how powerful your drone’s signal strength is, and therefore how far out it can fly. At most, it can make your drone less susceptible to interference, making for more responsive flying and lag-free FPV.

Your drone’s range becomes much more vital if you’re inspecting unusually large buildings. For large mansions and tall buildings, you want a range of at least 1km to ensure you can reach the roof with sufficient signal stability.

Waypoints, Orbit and Other Flight Modes

Intelligent flight modes are essential features for doing roof inspections. It makes the process of flying your drone much easier to do. Also, leaving the drone to fly itself can leave you to focus on controlling the drone’s camera, which can lead to better footage.

Two of the most useful of these flight modes are Waypoints and Orbit.

Waypoints allow you to draw a predetermined path for your drone to follow. You usually use a map on your smartphone drone app and drop waypoints in key areas, forming a path.

Once initiated, your drone will then follow this specific path automatically. Most drones will allow you to rotate the drone or the camera, giving you the freedom to frame shots and take photos independently.

The great thing is that you can have the drone repeat the same path over and over again as needed, and it will follow it accurately each time.

Orbit is another useful flight mode and is particularly suited to roof inspections. Here, you use the app to set a point of interest (i.e., your roof). The drone will then go around and “orbit” this point, taking a 360 footage of it. This is great for doing an initial survey of your roof.

Altitude Hold

An essential requirement of a drone is being able to hover stably in place. If not, it will be harder to control the drone and take photos and videos with it. You’ll end up getting jittery camcorder-like footage that’s hard to analyze.

You ideally need a drone that can maintain its altitude and position even when your hands-free of the controller. 

Some drones do this through optical flow cameras or sensors, which it can use to detect how far it is off the ground and adjust accordingly. A drone can also use GPS to make sure it can get back in position in case it gets knocked off of it (by wind, for example).

Flight Performance

Of course, a good roof inspection drone needs to be maneuverable and agile in the air. The controls have to be responsive and intuitive to use, even for non-experienced drone operators.

Since roof inspection is done outdoors, drones need to be rated for outdoor use. They need to be able to fly against strong winds and maintain its position against them. If the drone can resist a little rain, then that’s much more fantastic

Optional but great-haves include safety features like Return To Home (RTH), in case the battery gets to critical with the drone still being in the air. One-Touch Takeoff/Landing is also convenient for doing inspections quickly.

Do You Need a License for Drone Roof Inspections?

The answer to this question varies significantly from country to country and even from state to state.

But here’s a rule of thumb that applies to most situations

  • All drones above a specific weight must be registered with the relevant authorities (in the US, for example, any drone above 250g must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA).
  • If you’re a homeowner inspecting your own roof or another’s roof as a favor, then you don’t need a license, assuming you have a registered drone.
  • If you’re flying a drone as a paid service for others, then you need to get a commercial drone pilot license.

If you’re a roofing professional or own a roofing company and want to offer drones as a service, you need to have a license. In the US, this license is in the form of the Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. 

The certification is a two-step process that first requires you to sit through an Aeronautical Knowledge Test, which is the theoretical part. You then perform a practical flying test to prove you have the necessary skills needed to fly a drone safely.

In addition to being a certified pilot, drones used for commercial purposes also need to adhere to the following rules:

  • Drone must be registered
  • Drone must weigh less than 25kg
  • Drone must fly only in uncontrolled airspace, with clear visibility of at least 1.5 km during the day.
  • Drones can’t be flown above 120 meters
  • Drones can’t exceed speeds of 160 km/hour
  • Drones can’t be flown from a moving vehicle
  • Drones can only be operated during the day

If you’re a US resident and want to know more about drone licensing and such, you can visit the FAA Remote Pilot Certificate page.

If you live outside the US, then it’s best to check with your local authorities on the exact requirements, so you don’t get into trouble.

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DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

A variant of the Mavic 2, the Zoom can (perhaps unsurprisingly) zoom really well — up to 4x in lossless full HD.

Autel Robotics EVO

Autel Robotics EVO

A 4K drone with a 12MP camera that folds up for handy portability. It's water-resistant, too!

Holy Stone HS720

Holy Stone HS720

26 minutes of battery life and brushless motors give this foldable drone reliable, long-lasting performance.