The versatility of drones shows more and more each day, but one purpose that’s becoming increasingly popular is carrying additional loads.
You can now spot them on film locations, agricultural farms, and even construction sites. But just how much payload can these machines support?
The additional carrying capacity of a hobby drone is generally around 0.5 kg, while specifically designed drones can lift upwards of 200 kg. Therefore, the payload number heavily varies depending on the industry they’re meant to be used in.
So, how do these numbers compare with the capability of particular models? And why exactly is this important for you? We’ll be covering all of that, and more, in today’s post.
Let’s get straight to the burning question every drone enthusiast seems to have.
I did some digging to find out which drone currently tops the heavy-lifting chart and exactly how far drone technology can go.
The Griff 300 has been proven to carry up to 300 kg in gross weight. This means the Norwegian drone has a payload capacity of a whopping 225 kg, excelling far beyond its competition. However, it’s likely more powerful drones simply haven’t been disclosed to the public yet.
Another notable feature is that the drone has a flight time of 45 minutes with that load attached.
This and the monstrous yet flexible design gives way to its use in various industries.
The Griff 300 is particularly tailored to operate for the military, the law enforcement, and other support services. You can take a quick look at its flight here.
Small drones are generally the preferred choice of an ordinary person. And considering their economic prices and ease of use, it’s no surprise.
But what exactly can you expect when it comes to carrying additional weight? I did some digging to find out the specifics.
Small drones can carry a maximum payload of around 0.2 to 0.5 kg. While it may not seem like a lot, this allows you to add an accessory or two, like a GoPro. The cheaper options, however, usually max out at under 0.1 kg.
|Cheerson CX-10||6 g||$20|
|Syma X8C||80 g||$100|
|DJI Mavic Air 2||400 g||$800|
|DJI Phantom 4||450 g||$1300|
Hobby drones have a mid-range price and come with built-in cameras. And as the name suggests, they aren’t designed for anything too sophisticated yet get the job done.
This YouTube video shows drones from the Mavic range being put to the test. They, surprisingly, hold up pretty well!
It’s important to note that “toy drones” also fall into the same category. These are entry-level products that are ideal for people looking to get into the swing of things.
As the market for professional drones continues to develop, this is where things really start to get exciting.
The lifting capacity of professional drones starts at around 5 kg. This number steadily increases as you move towards the high-end models. Professional drones are costly and are particularly used for heavy-lifting in the agriculture and film industry.
The best part is that drones of this type can not only carry impressive loads but also consistently maintain long durations of airtime.
|Tarot T-18||8 kg||$500|
|DJI S1000||11 kg||$1200|
|FreeFly Alta X||16 kg||$16000|
|xFold Dragon x12 u11||45 kg||$31000|
They’re backed with fascinating technology and are used a lot more commonly than you might think. From delivering packages to filming blockbuster movies - they seem to do it all.
The use of drones in delivery hubs always seemed inevitable. And in 2016, Amazon made it a reality by making the first delivery via Prime Air - a transportation system incorporating drones.
But how much additional weight can these delivery drones really handle?
Amazon drones have a payload capacity of 2 kg. They’re relatively small in size and weigh just about 25 kg. According to Amazon, Prime Air is designed to be a quicker and safer alternative to the traditional system. However, this system is yet to truly take off.
These drones fly under 400 metres and can sense and avoid obstacles to ensure a smooth delivery.
It’s also important to note that Amazon is still designing better prototypes. So, the operating drones in the near future may have entirely different specifications.
The idea of drones carrying around humans sounds like it came straight from a sci-fi film. But believe it or not, passenger-carrying drones have been a reality for some time now.
Specific drones can indeed lift and carry a person from one place to another. The Ehang 184, for example, can carry a load of up to 100 kg. These aerial vehicles are equipped with multiple motors and are used to assist in operations across several industries.
|Ehang 184||100 kg|
|Griff 300||225 kg|
So, the latest drone technology is nothing short of revolutionary. But will we see these huge machines become part of the norm any time soon?
I’m afraid not.
Unfortunately, these person carriers bring with them a whole bunch of legal problems. Several countries, like Morocco, have already banned the flying of drones without a second thought.
The manufacturers of these models are still waiting to get full approval from relevant authorities. And for this to happen, the laws and regulations around airspace will need to undergo significant change.
Plus, it goes without saying that these drones come with an insane price tag. It will take years before they become affordable to the general public.
We know that the carrying capacity varies from model to model, but this change isn’t random - there’s a science to it.
To make things simpler, we can summarise the intricacies of drone flight into a few factors that explain the payload number.
The carrying capacity of a drone is affected by its overall weight, the power of its motor, the propellers, and the capacity of its battery. However, the flight is entirely subject to an environment that’s suitable for a drone’s performance.
These factors define the stability and duration of a drone’s flight. But what role does each one actually play? Let’s take a look.
The drone type directly refers to its size and what it’s designed for.
Smaller drones aren’t typically made to lift any sort of extra weight. So, they have lighter components that simply do the job.
Professional drones, on the other hand, are meant to be part of a more purposeful system. To make that happen, they’re fitted with more and stronger propellers.
These components generate the upward thrust required to lift anything additional to the drone.
The importance of the drone’s engine to a flight may seem a bit obvious, but it’s also relevant to explaining the payload capacity.
A more powerful motor increases the power-to-weight ratio of a drone. This allows it to generate more of a lift and, hence, carry a greater payload.
Why not just fit every drone with a powerful motor? Because there’s a catch.
A motor will only function if it has the right type of battery facilitating it.
A drone with a powerful motor consumes more energy and, therefore, needs a battery with a bigger capacity. And a large battery adds to the overall weight, which would only limit the entire system.
What’s more, an additional payload will not only affect the drone’s agility but also reduce the flight time.
At this point, you might be wondering just how important payload is in the grander scheme of things. Is it really a make-or-break factor for drones?
Here’s the thing: drones on their own are practically just toys. It’s the heavy-lift models that actually bring usefulness to the table.
The payload capacity determines how adaptive a particular drone is. A greater lifting capacity allows you to hook the drone up with even more technology, which can instantly multiply its processing power and versatility.
These upgrades could possibly add LiDAR technology for digital mapping, or high-end cameras for cinematography - the possibilities are endless.
And that’s not all. Some larger drones are simply used for the purpose of carrying. Their ability to lift heavy objects is set to revolutionize modern-day industries.
There are specific measures you can follow to get the best out of a drone. If you own one yourself, here are a few tips to get you started on the right path:
Your test flight would probably amount to nothing if you aren’t aware of your drone’s specifications.
Therefore, make sure to skim through the user manual and the reviews of other experts. This will prevent unnecessary accidents and give you an idea of what your drone can and can’t handle.
You may consider taking off some of your drone’s equipment, like the propeller guards, to reduce its weight. By adjusting your drone to a specific purpose, you’ll have a lot more room to work with.
And if you’re serious about improving the overall performance, research more about the best materials to use for building up a drone, or maybe, a battery upgrade may do the trick.
The current market is filled with products that will make your job as a pilot a lot easier. Consider using a frame to hold the additional weight, instead of just making do with strings and tape.
It’s really important to start off with a cheap model, or one that you don’t mind breaking.
However, once you’ve gone through all the learning stages and have practiced your skills, it might be time to upgrade to a heavier model. And just like that, you’ll be working with a longer flight time and a greater payload capacity.
As professional drones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, you’re very likely to find one that’s perfect for your specific needs.
To wrap things up: drones are no longer limited to recreational use. As technology continues to exceed expectations, a future without drones is starting to become unfathomable.
Drones are capable of lifting and carrying other heavy objects. In fact, drones can also be used to drop and release supplies and equipment on command. This feature has a lot of potential for medical uses and is often seen in military environments.
I’ve explained why payload capacity is an important part of drone flight. But if you’re an enthusiastic drone pilot like myself, it’s equally important to use it the right way.
This includes finding value in the best features while remaining within the boundary of your local law.