As we wrap up the 2019 holiday season, drones have once again been atop many techy’s “Best Gifts” and wish-lists. After all, how many tech-loving mom or pop could say no to the fun, functionality, and potential of something like this?
But, as the professional market has clearly shown, drones are far more than just toys. In fact, each year, new entrepreneurs will race to Best Buy and DJI to pick up their tool of choice and try to make a business out of aerial photography, inspection, marketing and more.
According to the FAA, there are over 1.5 million registered drones in the United States alone. This tells us a few things.
1. Americans are buying drones.
2. Americans are trying to make money with their drones.
We know this because the FAA only requires drones to be registered if they’re to be used for commercial use. There are undoubtedly many Americans looking to make an extra buck or start a business with their drone of choice, but what does that look like at a larger scale?
Unfortunately for most, a grand majority of these businesses won’t take off thanks to a cool-down of hype surrounding the industry and what aerial technology offers. The good news is that a drop like this means that the hobbyists, amateur pilots, and just-for-fun small businesses have closed up shop.
This leaves the market with a unique opportunity for well-established, professional drone businesses, as well as businesses that build drone programs from the ground-up. Fortunately, Suntuity AirWorks covers both ends of that spectrum, but in case you want to go it alone, you’ll need to know what mistakes to avoid.
The first choice you’ll have to make is to know what drone to buy for your business — so here’s a comprehensive look at the major drones on the market now, organized by price/complexity, for you to peruse and make a decision for you, your business, or your community.
For this breakdown, we’ll be exclusively focusing on DJI drones. There’s a reason DJI owns a whopping 76.8% of the drone market, and that reason coincides with how many of their drones continually top the review charts. It’s also why we at Suntuity AirWorks have become certified DJI dealers!
The Mavic Series
When it comes to drones for surface-level business operations, the lowest price point starts you off at the DJI Mavic series. Slick and technologically impressive for their price points, the Mavic series is more than capable of producing marketing videos, arena monitoring, and basic inspections. It’s considered a “consumer” drone by DJI, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still provide slick movement, powerful runtime, and supreme portability.
However, it shouldn’t be used for most commercial purposes beyond marketing videos or gathering raw footage. Services like roof inspections, cell tower inspections, and infrared are outside of most mavic capabilities due to their lower-end megapixel count. Even so, the Mavic series is an excellent choice as a companion drone to your main service drone, and it should be the second drone you purchase to start your fleet. To find out the specific specs of each Mavic available, you can find a comparison sheet here, and if you’re interested in the latest Mavic Mini, you can find a suitable review here.
The Phantom Series
The Phantom series is where we start to see the class of drones that are considered prosumer. These drones are typically at a higher price point than most consumers can afford due to the fact that they come standard with numerous capabilities that professionals need.
The Phantom series of drones are versatile, dependable, carry a fixed camera, and offer multiple features such as a collision avoidance system, 20 megapixel camera, 4K video, and up to 25 min flight time. This is the drone that introduces pilots to opportunities in mapping, 3D modeling, infrastructure inspections, and more. The Phantom 4 Pro is the place most budding drone businessmen and businesswomen start.
The Inspire Series
While the Phantom series is great, the Inspire series is where we start to see truly unique professional services come to pass. It is considered a professional level drone, with few real consumer uses. It’s “middle of the road” price point follows suit with more options for professional applications.
Unique features of the Inspire series includes raised landing gear that make 360 camera rotation possible, an option for two controllers (one for pilot, and one for the camera), interchangeable payloads with upgrade options for zoom lenses or thermal sensors, and more. This is the series used in Game of Thrones to film the dragon flight scenes, but it’s also used outside of cinematography for thermography, infrastructure inspection, and high-level scanning/modeling.
The Matrice Series
Now we’re getting into the big boys of the drone world. The Matrice series are industrial-level drones. Their high price-tag keeps even Hollywood away, but that’s because it’s designed specifically for specialized commercial applications at a large scale. It comes with RTK (with survey grade positioning), 17” propellers, water resistance, high-wind speed resistance, and complete customization for its payloads.
This means that the Matrice series can carry the heaviest, most high-end cameras, LiDAR, and up to three sensors all at once. And that’s just the beginning.
Crystal-clear zoom miles away? Check. Thermal capabilities that can spot the exact sections where a hot-spot will cause a system shutdown? Check. Optical Gas Imaging? Check. With a Matrice, the possibilities are endless.
So what series is best for you to start, or better yet, best to upgrade your business? Is a Phantom better for a police force, or would a Mavic due well enough for traffic monitoring? Should an energy business invest in a Matrice, or will the thermal capabilities of an Inspire do just as well for their needs?
If these are the types of questions you find yourself asking, you’re in the right place. To learn more about running a drone business alongside Suntuity, visit us at www.suntuityairworks.com/academy. To upgrade your businesses with discounts on drones, staff training, and insurance opportunities, visit us at www.suntuityairworks.com/enterprise.
We’ll know what’s just right for your needs, and we can help you get up and running. Our goal is to evolve your industry will drone technology, and that starts with you.