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Top 5 Survey Grade Drones

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Contributed by Amit Lal



Top 5 Survey Grade Drones.


When we hear the word ‘Survey’ today, the word Drones also gets associated. Surveys also are of various types but today we will stick to ‘Geographic Surveys’. Hundreds of Drones are there in the market globally by numerous manufacturers. We will take a look at top 5 on the basis of:

  • Expenses to Outcome ratio: The average cost of the drone and the work output from the drone to see how economical the drone is.

  • Payload capabilities : In these surveys the payload sensors play a vital role . A better sensor will yield better results. More variety of payloads give more multitasking capabilities to the drone.

  • Endurance : Endurance is specified as the average flight time excluding the backup timing and plays a vital role in choosing which drone to have for the particular work.

  • RTK compatibility : RTK ( Real Time Kinematics) is a method for accurate position and data capture. It is presently a must have feature for a survey grade drone.

  • Airworthiness : Airworthiness is basically the trust and safety factor the drone comes with. It’s one of the most vital factors to consider while procuring a drone.

  • Each drone will be rated on a scale of 1 to 10 in each category and a total rating out of 50 for each.


So let’s begin.


1. Phantom 4 RTK





Phantom 4 RTK comes from the renowned manufacturer DJI. As all of the DJI products it has also established itself well in the market. Being a comparatively compact drone than others in the list it’s easy to carry. Right out of the box it’s almost ready to fly. Reduces the hassle of assembly and setup by a great margin.


Ratings


Expenses to Outcome ratio : 7

Coming at around $6500

No doubt it’s a great drone but it lacks the feasibility of easy repairs and doesn’t support a lot of open source softwares.

Payload Capabilities : 4

The 20 Megapixel one inch sensor is a great sensor to have but that’s the only payload it can have and so doesn’t give the scope of having other camera sensors.

Endurance: 6

With around 20% battery as backup the drone is able to give an average of 21 minutes and is quite a good endurance.

RTK Compatibility : 9

Well it’s RTK equipped and is a great tool but only issue remaining that it’s not compatible with a lot of other softwares.

Airworthiness : 7


Like all DJI drones it’s a very safe drone and is safe when operated with some caution and just has standard failsafes.


Total score 33/50


2. Intel Falcon 8





The Intel Falcon series comes from the renowned company Intel and is a great drone in the market being an octocopter.


Ratings


Expenses to outcome ratio : 6

Coming with average cost of $ 12,000 this may seem a big expense but the outcome delivered also compensates for the cost beared.

Payload Capabilities : 5

This machine compatible with Sony Alpha 7R,FLIR Tau 2 640 camera. It is not compatible with a lot of other payloads.

Endurance : 8

This drone with 20% battery backup can give around 26 minutes of endurance equipped with a X7 sensor.

RTK Compatibility : 9

It comes equipped with RTK module and even has room for external their party RTK devices still has some limitations with compatibility to open RTK systems.

Airworthiness : 8


This is a safe machine to handle but has been seen to face issues because of the heavier body and just standard fail-safes.


Total rating : 38/50


3. Wingtra One





The very unique tailsitter hybrid vertical take off and landing fixed wing drone Wingtra came up with an amazing concept of combining a fixed wing and a multirotor.


Ratings


Expenses to Outcome ratio : 8

Starting at around $20,000 this drone is quite expensive but also worth the investment after looking at the outcomes.

Payload Capabilities : 8

Sony RX1R II 42 MP camera, affordable Sony QX1 ,RedEdge-MX and a lot of other open source cameras are compatible.

Endurance : 8

With an endurance of 54 minutes with an RTK/PPK module and the camera sensor on board this has a great endurance.

RTK Compatibility : 8

Indeed a good RTK module but not then absolute best. Some packages don’t even include the RTK module.

Airworthiness : 7


Wingtra has not been used as much as the the other drones but in terms of airworthiness this drone faces issues in take off while winds and even in landing.


Total Rating : 39/50



4. DJI Matrice 300 RTK





Again from the company DJI comes this elder brother of the previous drones, M300RTK. With higher endurance and payload capabilities it fulfills the shortcomings of its previous variants.


Ratings


Expense to outcome ratio: 8

Coming at around $13000 this drone gives valuable outcomes. But not all used sensors are compatible.

Payload Capabilities : 8

supports a variety of payloads.Zenmuse XT2 / XTS / Z30 / H20 / H20T / L1 /P1.Some third-party payloads also.

Endurance : 8

With no payloads this machine is able to deliver 55 minutes of endurance.

RTK Compatibility : 9

This also comes equipped with RTK module but it’s the same as it’s previous variant.

Airworthiness : 9


Being a good machine this drone has performed well in the field and has proven to be a very safe machine.


Total Rating : 42/50


5: eBee




The fixed wing drone coming from sensefly is an amazing fixed wing drone for geographic survey and has proven to be an user favourite.


Ratings

Expenses to Outcome Ratio : 9

With a base cost of $10,000 this drone is a great piece of engineered equipment that meets almost all major requirements.

Payload Capabilities : 10

senseFly S.O.D.A 3D, senseFly Duet M, senseFly Aeria X , senseFly Duet T, MicaSense RedEdge MX, Parrot Sequoia +, senseFly S.O.D.A., senseFly Corridor are some amazing camera sensors supported other than many open source cameras.

Endurance : 10

With a whopping total of approximately 90 minutes of endurance the eBee washes away all other drones in the list.

RTK Compatibility : 9

The drone is RTK compatible and supports various RTK and PPK modules.

Airworthiness : 9


This drone has proven to be very efficient even in the harshest of weather conditions. Crashes or failures don’t tend to affect this system. Most damages are repaired with just a layer of Duct Tape . The amazing airframe is highly durable and is so modular that even someone not familiar with drones can swap the components.


Total Rating : 47/50


This was a summary of some of the best 5 geographical survey grade drones that are popular in the present market. Watch our blog space for more updates!



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