Choosing the Right Drone for Your Drone Program

The Ultimate Guide for Selecting a Drone by Industry

Fri Jul 10 2020 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Choosing the right drone for your program can be daunting. With so many specialized tools on the market, it can be challenging to determine which drone would work best for your organization. If you’re also taking sensors into account, this process can be even more overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve compiled our recommendations on the best drones for your industry - based on your unique field, company, budget, and business challenges.

Photo Credit: DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral

Agriculture

For those in the agriculture field, the proper drone for your organization depends on your business goals. Unless you’re practicing research and development, an advanced drone and camera system probably isn’t necessary. For most agriculture professionals, drones use pertains to scouting, variability detection, prescription adjustments, and elevation mapping. A standard drone with an RGB camera is an excellent answer to these needs. DroneDeploy software can adjust RGB imagery to produce VARI spectral data using our Plant Health filter. For hardware, a small-to-medium-sized drone like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Phantom 4 Pro V2 is best because of its simplicity, reliability, and lightweight structure. Not only does it make it easy to carry across the field, but they’re also both compatible with Live Map - one of our most popular features in the field, which allows the user to map in real-time.

Organizations performing research and development will probably want multispectral processing for more advanced variability analysis to monitor product trials closely. For an all-in-one solution, we recommend purchasing the DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral drone. If you’d like to choose your camera separately, the Senterra, Micasense, and SlantRange multispectral cameras are great options to attach to the drone of your choice. DroneDeploy is currently fully compatible with both Micasense and DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral hardware, processing the imagery from the multispectral sensors and automatically applying the correct band order and algorithm for accurate, calibrated plant health analysis.

Photo Credit: DJI Matrice 200

Construction

In construction, you’ll need a drone that offers high precision, up-to-the-centimeter level accuracy first and foremost. Our customers use their drones primarily to track project progress, take measurements, and perform site inspections. The right drone for your company will depend entirely on your unique building demands. In general, construction professionals tend to use small to medium-sized drones without special cameras, like DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro, Phantom 4 Pro V2, or Phantom 4 RTK, or the Skydio 2. If you need an industrial-grade drone, try the DJI Matrice 200 or Matrice 210, with or without RTK.

RTK, or real-time kinematic, is a technique that uses carrier-based ranging and provides positions that are orders of magnitude more precise than those available through code-based positioning. This is imperative for those in construction, and DroneDeploy software ensures faster processing (up to 25%), relative elevations, and improved accuracy with our enhanced RTK support. If you already have GPS equipment, rest assured that DroneDeploy also offers GCP dataset processing for the highest level of geospatial accuracy.

Photo Credit: Skydio 2

Energy

Within the energy sector, surveying, inspections, and project documentation are our most-seen use cases. Because of the nature of the job, both the drone and its camera have to withstand high temperatures or gas emissions. Industrial-grade drones like the DJI Matrice 200 and 210 with or without RTK, or the DJI Inspire 1 and 2 are large and robust enough to work in these conditions. Depending on the location precision needed, you may also need to purchase this equipment with RTK or GCP equipment on hand. For cameras, standard options like the X4S or X5S are compatible. To take advantage of thermal data, we recommend DJI’s XT, XT1, XT2, or X7. Note that DroneDeploy supports thermal technology and radiometric processing, plus real-time thermal mapping via Thermal Live Map.

In complex environments, like a facility or transmission towers, the Skydio 2 advanced sense-and-avoid technology helps you avoid crashes and gather up-close imagery. The Skydio 2, a U.S. manufactured drone, gives you the confidence to fly at a low elevation and capture close up videos and photos on the most varied site.

Photo Credit: DJI Inspire 2

Emergency Response

Emergency Response professionals need a drone with precision accuracy and high-resolution imagery to complete search and rescue missions or create accident reconstructions. Thermal technology is especially valuable to them, so they can locate survivors and determine if a building is safe to enter or detect animals at risk. A DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual will give you the thermal and RGB data you need and is compatible with DroneDeploy’s Thermal Live Map. In accident reconstruction, you’ll potentially want to capture your data with GCPs for the highest level of accuracy. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2 and DJI Mavic 2 Pro are relatively inexpensive and can perform these tasks. If you have a larger budget and want something a bit more heavy-duty, the DJI Inspire and Matrice are what we recommend for longer flight times and a more durable frame. The Skydio 2 is also easy-to-use for first responders, because of its low elevation capabilities and autonomous flight features.

Photo Credit: DJI Mavic 2

Insurance

The insurance industry has many use cases when conducting inspections - broken shingles, standing water, weather or fire damage, etc. are all commonly seen in the field. Since satellite imagery is often outdated or unreliable, a drone can be used to survey the selected area instead. Overall, you’ll need software that provides both thermal data and high-resolution imagery. As mentioned previously, the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual provides thermal and RGB data, perfect for detecting standing water and leaks. A DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2 or a Skydio 2 drone is lightweight and reliable and is a great option if you’re only looking for RGB data. Neither of these drones offers radiometric thermal imagery, so if that’s something your organization needs, then we recommend the DJI Matrice 200 or 210 with XT, XT1, or XT2 thermal cameras. This will show you the selected area’s absolute temperature and can be completed with DroneDeploy’s radiometric thermal processing.

DroneDeploy’s Solution

No matter your industry, DroneDeploy can assist in your business processes by providing an easy-to-use drone software that empowers users to perform more efficiently, act faster, and make smarter decisions while ensuring the highest level of safety. Our software is compatible with all of the drones mentioned above and offers additional features like Annotations or the Inspection Workflow that make it easier to share and collaborate across teams.

If you’re interested in learning more, read some of our customer testimonials or watch our webinar on proving the value of your drone program.


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