There are many sizes and styles of drones on the market, some are toys for flying in the backyard, some are a little more advanced, and some are targeted toward the commercial community. These are the types of machines that deliver goods and 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. Fair warning, these are largely off-the-shelf commercial drones, the majority of rigs out there are custom built and most cost a little bit more than this list offers.
DJI designed the Matrice 200 series to offer a versatile set of inspection capabilities. Choose from various payloads and mounting points to look up, down...
- 38 - MIN
- 6K - 24 FPS
- 50 - MPH
- 5 - MILES
Yuneec's reliable hexacopter hardened for the commercial market, the Yuneec H520 is ready for your inspection tasks and more.
- 28 - Minutes
- 4K - 30 FPS
- 38 - MPH
- 1 - MILE
The Yuneec H920 Plus is a large, powerful hexacopter, made to haul larger cameras. A reliable machine that masters the basics for your commercial drone...
- 24 - Minutes
- 4K - 30 FPS
- 25 - MPH
- 1 - MILE
Building off of the Mavic 2 platform, the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise offers new cameras and new accessories such as lights, speakers and beacons.
- 31 - MIN
- 4K - 30 FPS
- 44 - MPH
- 4.3 - MILES
If you are looking for a professional drone, a machine for tasks like film making, we recommend checking out our Best professional drones list instead. You don’t have to fly a drone for work to enjoy these machines, but most do come with a hefty price. Join us for a list of some of the best commercial drones.
Best commercial drones
Best professional drones instead?
Related reading: Drones deliveries are not easy!
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. We’re working on our content, our drone pilot training, or you can hit up our preferred training provider, Drone Pilot Ground School.
DJI Matrice 200 series: 200/210/RTK
February 2017Release Date
When DJI re-imagined their commercial drone platform, they had inspection services in mind. Previous drones struggled with looking up, so DJI added a mount to point a camera up. Previous drones struggled with only having room for one payload, so DJI put three mount points, and thus the DJI Matrice 200 series was born. The Matrice 200 is the started machine, a quadcopter that accepts two bottom mounted payloads. The Matrice 210 adds a third mount on top of the drone, for an upward facing camera. The Matrice 210 RTK adds in that crucial GPS performance for demanding environments and precision operations.
These are powerful, fast and weather resistant drones that are almost custom order from DJI. Budget about $6,500 to get started, with a full flight package of the 210 RTK running north of $10,000.
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise
October 2018Release Date
After finding success with the second version of the Mavic Pro, along came the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, using the same platform as the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, but adding mounting points for accessories. The accessories are designed for tasks such as search and rescue, with a spotlight, loud speaker, beacon and more. Available in two versions, the Zoom Edition uses the same camera as the Mavic 2 Zoom, and the Dual Edition adds a thermal camera to the mix, but removes zooming from the visual camera.
DJI did not initially display the purchase price for the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, we understand it has a starting price of $1999, the accessories are added from there.
September 2017Release Date
After some success with the hexacopter design, Yuneec decided to head over to the commercial drone market with the Yuneec H520. A commercial-grade, folding machine that ships in construction orange. A range of payloads are available, mostly allowing the H520 to serve your inspection, surveying, mapping and search and rescue needs. Retractable landing gear allow 360 degree rotation of the camera, and the platform promises stability, even in high winds.
The Yuneec H520 alone costs less than $2000, but you should expect to pay around $4000 for a full flight package with multiple batteries and a camera or two.
Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus
February 2017Release Date
If you are looking for the largest off-the-shelf drone that Yuneec produces, you'll be looking at the Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus. This is a sizable hexacopter made to haul a fair sized camera. By default, you'll launch with the CGO4, which compares nicely to the Panasonic GH4. Was that a collaboration? Well, go ahead and install the camera gimbal to launch with the GH4 itself. In the end, the H920 Plus is an older drone, it's still reliable and masters the basics, but runs Yuneec's older in-house software. Their software is not bad, but their newer drones use PX4 and Dronecode software, which is more robust.
Bottom line, if you need a powerful drone for your more basic Hollywood camera flight needs, the Yuneec Tornado H920 Plus is a solid consideration.
June 2015Release Date
The 3DR Solo was one of the best drones in its time. This large and powerful machine was made to haul a GoPro, and it did so very well with a 3-axis stabilized gimbal (worth more than the drone itself) and quality peripherals to enhance the flight. 3DR themselves have shifted their focus greatly since the Solo began to lag behind others in the market. 3DR is almost entirely a services and software company now, offering site scan packages using drones from multiple other manufacturers, that said, these are drones that accomplish what the Solo did in the early days.
The 3DR Solo has big, powerful motors, a large battery and versatile payload mount. The machine is sturdy with a plastic housing and LED lights on each corner. The landing gear are not wimpy, but they are a little fragile feeling. Considering some of the antenna are in those legs, we recommend getting spares, just in case.
The 3DR Solo is a stable drone, hovering quite well and is fairly smooth. We don't recommend relying on the non-stabilized GoPro mount for your camera, but the results are not terrible. As mentioned, the stabilized gimbal sells for more than the drone these days, it also supports up to the Hero4 camera, so we have a really hard time recommending it at this point. Still if you are looking for a solid and reliable drone for other uses, the 3DR Solo is a great option.
We've seen some crazy deals on this discontinued drone, but you should expect to find the 3DR Solo for around $399.
January 2019Release Date
It’s a bird? It’s a plane…. I’ll stop there, this is the Identified Flying Object from UVify, a business class drone ready to put you to work. You read that right, the UVify IFO is a powerful, if simple, drone by itself, but when you put 20 or more of them together, light shows are soon to follow. Advanced connectivity and as much battery life as they could manage is packed on top of a huge led light, then you stack the drones together when charging to reduce travel woes.
UVify will sell you an IFO drone, but that’s not the idea. Instead, take advantage of their business package, for a monthly fee, you get a minimum of twenty IFO drones and a no-nonsense replacement program. One simple fee puts a full drone entertainment business in your hands. Now you just need to find customers, make sure you abide by all the laws, acquire the proper waivers, and put those drone into the sky.
May 2019Release Date
When UVify launched their entertainment drone, the IFO, they took a carbon fiber frame and attached a big LED light to it. The drone itself is simple at first glance, ignoring the advanced computing and GPS tech to help it fly in a swarm. A few months after that, they announced the UVify IFO-S. Using the same frame, they upgraded the on-board computer, added mounting points for an array of payloads and accessories, then programmed it to be a bit smarter.
If for no other purpose, the UVify IFO-S offers a superb search and rescue experience. One drone alone is a good start -- Attach vision and infrared cameras then start the search. With the IFO-S, the "S" stands for swarm, which means that a dozen, a few dozen, how about a hundred of these drones taking to the sky to find a lost hiker or seek out a fleeing criminal. I think you see the point.
Drone legal and safety
FreeFly Alta 8
Introduced on this list, also on our Best camera drones list
The FreeFly Alta 8 is a massive drone with a huge payload. Measuring almost 4 feet across, the Alta 8 can pack up to 26 lbs of gear, including the batteries and such – so only about 20 lbs of camera. While FreeFly promotes themselves as film enthusiasts, the Alta packs an optional top mount for your camera. We introduced this idea with the DJI M200 series recently, but FreeFly has had it for a time already. Commercial drone pilots will be able to inspect the underbelly of bridges with either of these options.
If you are looking for a little less payload and a smaller drone, the FreeFly Alta 6 is a hexacopter take on the same air frame.
There is a lighter Alta 6 as well, if this is too much, but drones of this caliber come at a price, look to spend about $17,495.00 on the FreeFly Alta 8 on Amazon today. The FreeFly Alta 6 is $11,995 on Amazon.
DJI AGRAS MG-1S
Not a friendly name for a drone, but this friend to farmers wasn’t really made to be flashy. The DJI AGRAS MG-1S hauls around a 10L tank, the attached precision spray system puts the drone to work flying a pattern over crops to deliver the necessary fluids to grow our food. Aside from minimizing trauma to the plants from foot traffic or tractors running over top, the farmer can get a new perspective of the health of their field while the drone does all the hard work.
The benefit to the DJI AGRAS MG-1S for any user is the advanced RTK GPS. Most of us are comfortable with GPS tracking our mobile phones or camera drones to within a foot or two, the AGRAS MG-1S is accurate to within a few centimeters. DJI also provides ground station software to best create routes and programs for your flight. If autonomous flight is your goal, this is a difficult drone to beat for ease and precision.
The AGRAS MG-1S will not fit in your backpack, however, as it measures nearly 5 feet across when fully deployed. The DJI AGRAS MG-1S is a custom order type of machine, you’ll need to contact them for specific pricing, but expect a starting point of around $15,000.
Parrot Disco-Pro AG
Built with crop inspection needs in mind, the Parrot Disco-Pro AG is an updated Disco for longer flights, greater range and higher end cameras. Able to put multiple cameras over 200 acres on a charge with the same 1.2 mile operational range, the Disco-Pro AG also uses Pix4D or Airinov First+ for mapping solutions of your crops.
Higher and faster flying, grab the Parrot Disco-Pro AG for $4,800
The folks at Atlas Dynamics have a take on your commercial drone needs, they want you to buy their mostly autonomous tricopter, the Atlas Pro. Combined with a fully powered and self-managed dock, Atlas Pro can be set to fly itself, land itself and dock in out of the weather until it’s time to fly again. This hands-off autonomous approach is a little early for most markets, but at least we know that they’re ready to rock once the FAA releases them.
Related: Best drones of InterDrone
High-speed flight, great battery life and a planned selection of camera options to satisfy your agriculture or infrastructure inspection, security and other needs. This well-built machine is one to watch out for.
Intel Falcon 8+
Intel’s Falcon 8 and Falcon 8+ have been flying the skies for some fun inspection projects around the globe. These are not the sort of drones you pick up cheap and fly in your backyard, but if you are serious about inspection services, or other high flying, high-end camera needs, the Falcon 8+ could be the drone for you. More than just a drone, Intel Insight is a powerful software package that takes your images from the sky and performs magic on them. Well, maybe not magic, but creating a full 3D map out of stills is fairly slick.
3D mapping is only the start, Intel Insight is designed to assist in the inspection process. The software is able to identify and highlight any changes of an object after you collect subsequent scans. At InterDrone 2017 we watched as the drone scanned the facade of a building, changes were then made, removing screws and lights, etc. The second scan was able to identify these changes. The idea is to automate much of the menial work, place that info in front of a human who can then decide to repair or ignore the real world object.
We do not have a price tag for the Intel Falcon 8+ drone, but we’ve heard the number $42,000.00 floating around. A small price to pay if you need these sorts of tools.
We love to see price drops, you can order the Intel Falcon 8+ base drone for $16,359 from B&H Photo.
We’re not saying that being in the military makes you a professional, but, it sort of does, doesn’t it? If you are looking for something more than your standard camera rig or quadcopter, maybe one of our list of military drones can help.
The average drone pilot cannot take to the sky in the large passenger drones, but can certainly be a passenger alongside a higher licensed pilot. Check out some of the best passenger drones over on our dedicated list for the topic.
Commercial drones Wrap-up
That’s all we have for today, I hope you can see the value in the various drone options presented. If nothing else, I hope we’ve given you a sense of the types of industries and workloads that drones are supporting today. We did not discuss passenger drones, nor did we get into law enforcement and military equipment – we tried to stick to drones that you can actually go to a store and purchase, even the ones that the average pilot can’t afford.
Is there a commercial or professional drone that you think should have been on this list? Which of these pro drones would you like to play with for a non-pro flight?