Heavy Lift Drone – What Is It and Should I Get One
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Drones are quickly becoming a modern commodity enjoyed by enthusiasts all across the globe, with plenty of recreational applications. It’s not uncommon to see high definition video or photography taken with a drone for breathtaking aerial shots. However, drones aren’t limited for vacation trips. In fact, there are different types of drones and one such example, a heavy lift drone, can play an integral role in a professional environment and can have a vast range of sweeping applications.
Today, a heavy lift drone is a potential point of convenience for personal and professional use. Imagine the flexibility offered by a drone which has more freedom of movement than other standard vehicles and is capable of lifting and delivering weighty objects. Imagine, for instance, a construction environment where specific tools and supplies are transported from different heights without the need for workers to travel on foot. What about harvesting food or delivery? The list goes on.
It doesn’t mean they’re only for business use, and enthusiasts can utilize them as well. But whatever your background, we’ll briefly breakdown what to know about what a heavy lift drone is and what they can do for you.
What is a heavy lift drone?
Like the name implies, this is a commercially available drone capable of lifting amounts greater than their standard counterpart. A typical drone that you might use for recreational purposes normally only has the capacity to carry a camera and not much else. A heavy lift drone, however, is designed for carrying much more, and what they can carry varies based on what model you get.
What can heavy lift drones carry?
While the total carrying capacity of a drone model depends on the drone itself, current heavy lift drones can lift anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds (or 10-15 kilograms). Other lifting drones will carry less weight, from about 2 to 5 pounds.
What are they useful for?
Heavy lift drones are good in any environment where it benefits users to carry objects over various distances. Since heavy lift drones can access heights and distances and save time, their convenience works for a variety of purposes.
Heavy lift drones are a great asset, for instance, in rescue operations when food, medical, or other supplies are running short in an area devastated by a natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake, or hurricane, and it is dangerous or nearly impossible to transport those supplies by ground to people who need them. A heavy lift drone solves this problem and is a much cheaper and more available solution than using a fully-crewed aircraft or helicopter.
Just make sure that if you are taking your heavy lift drone to help with humanitarian efforts outside your native country, that you do your due diligence and apply for permission, if necessary, and follow local rules and regulations for that specific country. An example of what you might expect to encounter when traveling to a foreign country can be found here for the country of Myanmar, but each country will have different rules and you should do your research well in advance of your trip, if possible.
Should I get a heavy lift drone vs. a commercial one?
You might wonder if it’s better to get a heavy lift drone. Even if you don’t plan to use it for industrial or business purposes, there could be advantages. However, it entirely depends on what you need the drone to do. If you’re planning to take high definition video or recordings, you can still use a heavy lift drone to carry better equipment.
But, unless you intend to take advantage of the drone’s weight-carrying abilities, you may not need the extra investment.
Heavy Lifting Drones
Now that you have a better understanding of heavy lift drones, we’ll provide some recommendations. Not that drones of this type are typically in higher price tiers due to their size and configuration.
DJI Agras MG Series
Our first pick is the DJI Agras series, specifically because it has an impressive carrying capacity and is recommended for field and agricultural applications. This is because it’s capable of transporting up to six liters of liquids, useful in an agriculture situation. It has many components that keep it in the air for extended periods and various safeguards against motor failure.
- Precision radar and FMV equipped camera
- Can reach heights of over 2 miles airborne
- 8 motorized blades for extreme stability and performance
- Carrying capacity of 10kg
This is indeed an industry level pick and perfect for professional use. Please note, because of its specifications, some degree of training is required. Always be sure that you follow drone flight regulations too.
Typically, the Agras models can easily start around the $10,000 mark, so they’re best for business use.
Yuneec H920 Series
Our next choice fits enthusiasts looking for a powerful drone capable of carrying heavier equipment for improved photography and recording. This model is capable of stability in heavy winds and great distances from the ground without compromising its performance.
Most models carry their own high-definition camera and the batteries/charger are included.
- Hexacopter design for maximum stability
- 2kg payload capacity for heavier cameras
- 20 minutes of flight time
DJI Matrice Series
Our next choice is a great option for business development or casual use. It’s unique, because it handles many automatic flight processes to make use simple and accessible, whereas many drones require a degree of training.
The Matrice can achieve short flight times when carrying heavier items, but with additional batteries can remain in the air longer. By itself, it’s can remain in the air up to 40 minutes with an additional battery, so it fits both enthusiast and professional use.
- Efficient quadcopter design and lightweight frame
- Best used to carry 3kg payloads
- Programmable flight paths with easy to use flight system/software
For those who want a more automatic, programmed approach, the DJI Matrice series can fit that role.
What else should I know about heavy lift drones?
With an idea of what heavy lift drones can do for you along with the models listed, you might be interested in one. Before you take the final plunge, just understand a few things.
Heavy lift drones can range from models that are designed to carry items and those made for commercial applications. Therefore, it’s expected the person(s) using the drones are certified pilots. In some cases, it’s necessary for regulatory standards. Therefore, even enthusiasts need to have a background in operating drones before purchasing.
Speaking of purchasing, know that industrial drones of this caliber often hit higher price tiers. While commercially available ones for hobbyists can start from $50-100 USD, a heavy lift drone is known for breaking the $1K USD price tier easily. Therefore, if you’re looking for a drone that can take pictures and acquire recreational footage, start with those.
Heavy lift drones are an example of how they can integrate into unexpected applications outside of recreation and video recording. Numerous industries and businesses can benefit by utilizing a heavy lift drone, and enthusiasts can take advantage of their ability to carry extra weight.
You can learn more about drones and how to use them by checking out other articles on our site.