There are many sizes and styles of drones on the market, some are toys for flying in the back yard, some are a little more advanced, and some are targeted toward the commercial community. These commercial machines are designed for tasks such as to deliver goods, or carry infrared cameras for inspections.
As with near any drone segment, there are also a great bunch of drones here for search and rescue teams to save lives. These are the best commercial drones.
Most of the drones on this list are off-the-shelf commercial drones, however, the majority of significant commercial rigs out there are custom built, and most cost a little bit more than this list offers.
Related reading: Drones deliveries are not easy!
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I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.
The scope of commercial drones is very wide. Small drones with infrared cameras can perform inspection tasks, a basic consumer drone can scan a farmer’s fence line, all the way up to the helicopter sized passenger drones. We will discuss larger drones as we go, but we will try to stick to machines that weigh less than 55 lbs for this list.
You can fly these drones at home for fun, but please remember that if you are being paid to fly, you need to have your Part 107 license in the United States. Also, please be aware of the drone flight laws in your area.
Best commercial drones
DJI Matrice 300: Versatile commercial drone
The DJI Matrice 300 is a tough drone to beat if you have inspection tasks to perform. Multiple payloads are available, and can connect in multiple configurations to maximize your efficiency. Hang infrared and RGB camera, mount a spotlight up top, or whatever will suite your needs. Best of all, there is a dedicated FPV camera for the pilot, so the second attached controller is just for the camera operator.
Should I buy the DJI Matrice 300?
The Matrice 300 is as impressive as it is functional. The default package comes with RTK GPS precision, making the full flight package a little steep compared to many less-capable aircraft.
- Very capable drone
- Versatile payload configurations
- Multiple useful payloads
- Best operated by two people
- A significant investment
DJI Matrice 200 series: Last generation, still versatile
The DJI Matrice 200 series was our top pick for a commercial inspection drone, that is, until the M300 launched. The 200 series comes in a few versions, each with slightly different capabilities. This allowed users to keep costs down if they did not need the top mounted camera, or RTK precision.
Should I buy the DJI Matrice 200 series?
The M300 is a fantastic drone, but if you do not need all of the bells and whistles, the M200 series is nearly as capable in the sky, but can be had for a little less money.
- Capable modular drone
- Powerful payload options
- Good payload configurations
- Different models offer different features
- Specific models for specific features
- Older drone
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise: Search & Rescue drone
The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise is a conveniently upgraded consumer drone. The Airframe is that of the Mavic 2 series you can find at a retail store, but there are security and hardware updates that enable you to secure your data and attach accessories. The single accessory port on top accepts a speaker, spotlight, and a beacon. Bottom line, DJI took the reliable and capable Mavic 2 drone and spruced it up for search & rescue tasks.
Should I buy the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise?
If you opt for the Dual version that has the zoom camera and an infrared shooter, you’ll have a light-weight drone capable of tackling some serious tasks. Of course, the small consumer airframe is not common in the industrial space, the smaller drone may not be robust enough for your operations, shop carefully.
- Small and portable
- Easy to fly
- Secure and safe
- Familiar airframe
- Interchangeable accessories
- Smaller drone
- Consumer airframe
Yuneec H520: Inspection Hexacopter
The Yuneec H520 is getting to be fairly old, but was good enough to begin with that it’s still viable today. Launching with six propellers provides more stability, better safety, and enhanced wind resistance. Based on that premise, entities like the Nevada State Patrol put the H520 to work on accident reconstruction tasks. Saving tons of time by flying a drone around a scene as opposed to setting up tripods for ground-based cameras.
Should I buy the Yuneec H520?
The H520 offers a great flight experience, with powerful software and waypoint navigation, and the 4K camera is more than enough for most operations, but there’s no mistaking that newer drones offer better payloads.
- Resilient hexacopter design
- Good flight time
- Excellent controller
- Limited payloads
- Older drone
Yuneec H920 Plus: Camera hauler
When you need a beast to haul a larger camera, the Yuneec H920 Plus is a powerful option. It is a much older drone, made to handle DSLR type cameras, but the hexacopter design keeps your camera gear safe while in flight, and helps keep things stable for those epic aerial shots.
Should I buy the Yuneec H920 Pro?
As far as professional camera drones are concerned, the H920 Pro is one of the more accessible options, particularly suited to DSLR sized cameras. If you have a larger camera there may be a bigger professional drone to consider.
- Hexacopter safety and stability
- Hauls a DSLR camera
- Older drone
- DSLR are not the ideal drone camera