Drone technology has come a long way, and it’s more complicated than the $9.99 remote-control helicopters my nephews used to play with as a kid.
Many of us have seen the small black aircraft hovering above us, but we might not know where to get one. So I decided to research drone companies to see what’s out there. I want to see how far we’ve come from my idea of a drone as they have become so relevant to many industries, including the US government.
- Autel Robotics
- Sky Viper
- Air Hogs
The Top 5 Best Drone Companies
Drone technology has made rapid and essential improvements. The improved technology means increased potential within many industries.
But let’s remember that the technology is only as powerful as the company behind the drone. So here are the top 5 drone companies, the ones who are proving drone capability.
One of the top consumer drone manufacturers, DJI, is known for the Mavic Series. The Mavic drones are favorites of new and intermediate pilots and videographers.
In 2018, DJI released two new drones – the Mave 2 Pro, a folding-drone style drone, and the Mavic 2 Zoom. Both made big news in the industry. Then, in 2020, DJI came out with the Mavic Mini, possessing high-quality features in a tiny, half-pound drone body.
Though most of DJI’s drones have characteristics beyond the features used for any flight, the company continues to add value to its products with new accessories or software features. As a result, DJI is the only drone manufacturer that consistently offers new products yearly in the consumer-camera-drone market.
Exciting stuff, and it just gets better. Customers can now use the DJI Air 2S drone with an IOS mobile app from DroneDeploy. The app allows you to create maps, 3D models, panoramas, and more autonomously.
Yuneec has been in the aircraft industry since before drones. Initially, the company created a commercially successful RC airplane with fixed wings. But that led to a hugely successful and wildly popular aerial video quadcopter.
Yuneec’s camera drones are pretty large but fold down for easier transport. Their battery life is impressive in their ability to carry large cameras into the sky. An intel RealSense visioning system is Included in some of the drones, which detects objects and avoids them. Then in 2017 came the Typhoon H520 for commercial work.
But in 2018, the very first voice-controlled drone was manufactured. It was even better – the Mantis Q. It all sounds like something out of GI Joe!
In 2019, Parrot stopped producing toy drones, but their drones are still some of the best in the market.
For example, the ANAFI camera drone is still a big hit. This drone platform is a game changer. The possibilities are endless with its camera that you can point straight up and down. Their expertise runs to more than drones, though. They also design, develop, and successfully market products for smartphones and tablets.
Currently, they are working with the US Department of Defense to build short-range military reconnaissance aircraft. Very high-tech and maybe even a little scary when you look into the future of drones.
Skydio was founded in 2014. In 2018 their RI was considered a breakthrough in autonomous drones. The RI was for consumers, but it was a platform for commercial drones.
In 2019 their Skydio 2 sold out in just one day. And why not? The company built it around the Skydio Autonomy Engine, which is the most advanced flying AI in the world. Skydio is one fast-moving company, and they’re looking to improve drone technology at the speed of light.
Uvify is a drone manufacturer with a price tag on its drones that the average consumer can afford. The high-end professional and commercial drones are great, but the minor price points are where it’s at. Uvify proves that you don’t have to sacrifice quality when you go down in price.
In 2018, Uvify had an award-winning racing drone. In addition, they have a fantastic mini drone – OOri. Uvify has some drone AI, but their OOri mini drone is their top product. This tiny drone will change the industry; just wait and see.
Though not in the top 5, these drone companies hold their own. They offer innovative technologies to increase drone capabilities. According to George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, drone activity will increase significantly, urging states to improve their readiness.
The drone companies in this article are pushing technology to higher standards and will catalyze increased drone activity.
Autel Robotics has a tremendous dedication to camera drone technology. Autel creates easy-to-use aerial devices for photography and imaging. The company does not produce many consumer-level drones, though the one they’re known for is the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium. At this time, Autel is developing a VTOL craft that soars long distances at high speeds.
Kespry’s customers are aggregates, mining, construction, and surveying companies. The Kespry drones are intended to capture, view, and analyze aerial imagery and survey data. That drone sounds busy! And it gets even better.
Kespry has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Drone) program that has benefitted many customers. You can buy a drone anywhere, and if you realize it’s not performing as it should or giving you the data you need, bring it to Kespry and access the Kespry Cloud Platform.
Sky Viper sounds like a blast, with drones created for fun. Aerial video, racing, and general recreation. Serious performance, as well, must be noted. Although for the serious drone pilot, Sky Viper also has a flight simulation app. Top Gun, look out!
One of the top toy drone manufacturers, Hubsan, has a higher-end product. However, their sub-$100 drones are excellent machines, as well. H107 and H502 offer stable flight and responsive controls, with GPS routing and HD cameras. A lot of performance for your money!
Air Hogs Drones
Air Hogs manufactures novelty and licensed toy drones. These foam drones allow you to be Batman, Captain Kirk, or even Han Solo. Those are some significant players in the fun department when you’re a kid.
But remember, Air Hogs drones are very light and resistant since they’re crafted from foam. Remember, they are strictly toy-class machines with no flight assist.
They’re going to be super fun to fly, but you won’t have stable flight or self-piloted hover capabilities. And, because they’re toys made of foam, they cannot keep up with purpose-built camera drones, so drone photography is out of the question.
Aerialtronics creates commercial unmanned aircraft systems that the following industries can utilize: Safety & Security, Inspection, Surveying and Mapping, Agriculture, and Research. Their newest generation of drones is the Altura Zenith, with a flat, compact, lightweight design.
I’m picturing a traditional UFO with Earth’s latest state-of-the-art technology. This new drone’s capabilities include dual vision cameras, gas sniffers, and radiation detectors. With this technology, some bomb-sniffing dogs might soon be out of a job.
Delair combines long-range, high-performance fixed-wing UAV hardware with sophisticated analytics technology and operational services. The UX11, known as a mapping drone, is their best-known machine and reminds me a little of a stealth fighter. In addition, Delair offers industry-specific analytics software for aerial data processing and intuitive flight planning tools.
Insitu is a subsidiary of Boeing. The company’s ScanEagle drone is meant for aerial imaging. Its diverse applications include agricultural assessment, oil or gas pipeline inspection, and force protection.
Let’s add the Coast Guard to that list, shall we? Since 2017, the ScanEagle has been deployed with the United States Coast Guard. The drone’s role is to provide critical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. So far, ScanEagle has been instrumental in preventing approximately $4 billion in illegal drugs from reaching US shores.
Insitu’s proprietary software has the capability to extract intelligence from the raw data that drones collect. Their drones also perform drone-related services for commercial applications.
FreeFly builds specialized drones for high-end photography. The Alta 8, an octocopter carrying up to 20 pounds of camera gear, is their most giant machine. FreeFly also manufactures other camera equipment, including all shapes and sizes of stabilization rigs.
And Tabb Firchau over at FreeFly probably has the best job EVER! His title? Chief Experimenter. How cool to have a position where you play with drones all day long?
Here’s a different spin on drone manufacturing. EHang manufactures drones controlled via a smartphone app. In addition, the GhostDrone 2.0 has a feature called self-protection.
This feature makes the drone automatically return in the event of low battery or lost communication. GhostDrone 2.0 also has dual sensors, allowing a backup to take over if the first sensor fails.
In addition, its “smart algorithms” kick in to correct possible human error during flight. The first US trial of EHang 216 took place in 2020. The EHang 216 is the company’s pilotless air taxi which seats two passengers.
Air taxis, huh? Is this the future of taxis? Just think; taking to the air for faster arrival time. No more sitting in rush hour traffic watching the time tick by, knowing you’re going to be late for that big meeting at work – how George Jetson is that.
Zipline is a drone manufacturer with purpose-driven innovation. It is the world’s most extensive commercial autonomous delivery system and leads the globe in instant logistics.
The company is also the first long-distance emergency drone operation in the US authorized to deliver PPE and medical supplies.
It only gets better, though. Zipline has received air carrier certification from the FAA. This milestone will allow them to grow its automated, on-demand delivery service. This certification is the first of its kind, but if drone manufacturing keeps building, it won’t be the last.
Drones aren’t just for fun! Drone technology is advancing faster than these manufacturers can keep up with production. Drones reach places humans cannot, making them a required component in many industries today, from construction to photography to agriculture.
From defense and other sectors that protect our skies to the repopulation of forests, technology’s rapid advancement will continue to allow drone manufacturers to push the limits.
A report titled “The Skies without Limits v2.0” was handed out by the UK’s Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department of Transport.
The report predicts that, in just the UK, the drone technology sector has the potential to add $54 billion to the UK economy by 2030. The droves improved efficiency when it came to preformed tasks and contributed to a net savings of $26.3 million.
To top it off, the UK could see 650,000 new jobs and a reduction in carbon emissions by 2.4 million tons by the end of this decade.
All of that is thanks to the drone companies mentioned in this article, plus many more.