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 the top 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.
- The 5 Top Drone Companies
- Notable Mentions
- What makes a good drone company?
The 5 Top Drone Companies
Drone manufacturers have 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.
In 2018, DJI released two new drones – the Mavic 2 Pro, a folding-drone style drone, and the Mavic 2 Zoom. Both made big news in the drone 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 commercial drone 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, founded in 2014, has made a name for itself in the world of autonomous drones.
In 2018, their breakthrough autonomous drone, the RI, was considered a game-changer in the industry. Not only was it designed for consumers, but it also served as a platform for commercial drones.
The company’s commitment to innovation and improvement is evident in the success of their Skydio 2, which sold out in just one day in 2019. This was due in large part to the company’s proprietary Skydio Autonomy Engine, considered to be the most advanced flying AI in the world for autonomous drones.
Skydio continues to push the boundaries of what is possible with autonomous drone services constantly working to improve and evolve their offerings at lightning-fast speeds.
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 manufacturers 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 is one of the drone manufacturers which makes 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 making them one of the best in the commercial drone market.
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.
What makes a good drone company?
This section will delve into the factors that set leading drone companies apart from the rest.
When it comes to drones, hardware plays a crucial role in determining the quality and performance of the device. Good drone manufacturers should be committed to using high-quality materials and cutting-edge technology to create durable and reliable drones that can withstand the rigors of flight.
One example of a company that excels in hardware is DJI. The company has a reputation in the drone industry for using advanced technologies such as aeroscopes, OcuSync, and others, which have resulted in a range of high-quality drones that are popular with both consumers and professionals. DJI’s drones are known for their durability, stability, and ease of use, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.
Some examples of features that can make a good drone include:
- Strong and lightweight materials that can withstand the forces of flight and provide a stable platform for imaging and other sensors.
- Advanced flight control systems that allow for precise control and maneuverability.
- Reliable and efficient propulsion systems that can provide long flight times and stable hover.
- High-resolution cameras and other sensors that can capture high-quality images and data.
Overall, good drone manufacturers should be focused on creating high-performance drones that are packed with features and technology. DJI is an example of a company that has succeeded in doing so through its commitment to hardware innovation.
For drones, the software controlling them is just as important as the hardware. A top-notch drone software should not only be able to provide a wide range of functionalities but also be user-friendly and compatible with different types of hardware.
Imagine having a drone that can do so much more than just fly and take pictures, with a software that allows you to analyze data, plan automated flights, and even detect potential hazards, all with a few clicks.
One example of companies that excel in drone software is Esri and Pix4D. Esri is well-known for its role in geospatial surveys and GIS (Geographic Information System) research, and its ArcGIS platform is a powerful mapping tool that allows users to consolidate and analyze data.
The company has also developed Drone2Map, a platform for aerial photography that improves functionality and accuracy. On the other hand, Pix4D is known for providing the best photogrammetry technology for use with drones or aircraft.
Some examples of features that can make good drone software include:
- Ease of use and intuitive interface that allows users to quickly and easily control their drones.
- Advanced mapping and data analysis capabilities that can help users to extract valuable insights from their data.
- Support for multiple sensors and cameras, allowing users to capture different types of data and images.
- Automated flight planning and execution, to enable efficient and safe operation of the drone.
Overall, a good drone software provider should be focused on developing software that can help users to fully leverage the capabilities of their drones. Esri and Pix4D are examples of companies that have succeeded in doing so through their commitment to software innovation pushing the drone industry forward.
Funding is crucial in creating successful drone manufacturers. Companies such as SkyFund specialize in financing drone-specific projects, recognizing the potential of the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) technology.
This funding not only supports the development of the technology itself, but also aids in the creation of intellectual property and administration strategies, as well as assisting with drone policy development.
These organizations also offer resources for business development, marketing, and fundraising, giving startups the tools they need to secure further funding, such as Series A funding. probably the best example of a company dedicate solely to funding drone projects is SkyFund.
Creating a successful drone company is like building a high-performance racing car, you need the best parts from the most reputable manufacturers to make sure your drone takes off smoothly and soar high.
And just like a racing car, a drone company needs the best technology and equipment to ensure the reliability and performance of their drones and to stay on top of the global drone market.
Take NVIDIA for instance, they’re not just known for producing top-notch gaming computer parts, but also for their equipment and technology for autonomous flying of aircraft. One example is the DJI drone powered by the NVIDIA Tegra, it’s a perfect example of how NVIDIA’s technology can be used to power autonomous flying.
InvenSense manufacture motion sensors for compasses, gyroscopes, obstacle avoidance cameras and flight controllers, as well as image stability and flight controls for aircraft.
And lastly, XYS Corporation manufactures semiconductor and power controller chips for drone systems.
Using parts from these manufacturers, a drone company can ensure that their drones are built to perform at the highest level and leave their competitors in the dust.
Creating a successful drone company takes more than just building and selling drones, it takes a community of passionate and knowledgeable individuals to make it truly soar.
Take for example, the online discussion forums for drone owners like DJI Forum, where drone enthusiasts can submit questions and learn from one another. Websites like like this offer a wealth of information for drone enthusiasts to learn about the latest in drone technology, and connect with like-minded individuals.
These sites even provide YouTube channels and forums where members can share their own experiences and ask questions, building a sense of community and collaboration.
By fostering a sense of community and connection among drone enthusiasts, a drone company can not only build better products, but also create a loyal and engaged customer base.
Here are some of the commonly asked question answered in one place
Which is the best drone company?
The best drone company can vary depending on the individual’s specific needs and preferences. Some popular drone manufacturers include DJI, Yuneec, and Autel Robotics. It is important to research and compare features and specifications of different drone companies and drone manufacturers before making a purchasing decision.
Who makes drones for US military?
Several companies manufacture drones for use by the US military, including General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. These drone manufacturers produce a variety of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for different military applications, such as reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.
It’s important to note that the specific models or systems that military use might not be available for the general public, and their usage and capabilities are highly restricted.
Are there any US drone manufacturers?
Yes, there are several drone manufacturers based in the United States. Some notable examples include:
- General Atomics, based in California, which manufactures the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones
- AeroVironment, based in California, which manufactures small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) for military and commercial applications
- Boeing, based in Illinois, which manufactures military drones such as the A160 Hummingbird and the Insitu ScanEagle
- Northrop Grumman, based in Virginia, which manufactures military drones such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk and the MQ-8 Fire Scout.
These are just a few examples of drone manufacturers, there are many other companies across US working in the field of UAVs and drones. They work in different segments of the commercial drone market, from small drones to large ones, for commercial and military purposes, and ranging in size and capabilities.
Drones aren’t just for fun! Aerial robotics 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. Just imagine how that can effect other countries such as the US or Australia!
All of that is thanks to the drone companies and drone manufacturers mentioned in this article, plus many more.