These days, drones are everyone’s best friend. For everyday consumers, they are a wonderful opportunity to capture striking images and footage for social feeds. For professionals in a range of industries, they’re a way to enhance productivity, improve staff safety and reduce costs.
As UAVs’ uses have diversified, so their technology has evolved to meet different needs – today, there’s a smorgasbord of different options on the market, some geared towards hobbyists and others towards commercial operators. The question is, how do you tell the difference? It’s an important distinction to make, particularly if you need a drone for business purposes and don’t want to wind up investing in equipment that’s better suited to leisure uses.
To help you distinguish between the two main categories of UAVs, we’ve outlined some of the key differences between hobby and commercial drones below.
HOW TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN CONSUMER- AND INDUSTRIAL-GRADE DRONE MODELS
1. VERSATILITY AND CUSTOMISATION
Hobby drones are not intended for multiple purposes – they’re made for leisure and entertainment alone. As a result, they’re not designed to be multifunctional or to carry a range of different systems, sensors and accessories. Commercial drones, on the other hand, typically feature an open payload platform and can be fitted with distinct types of equipment and tailored to different uses, from mapping and surveillance to inspections and the delivery of goods. If a drone is fairly limited in terms of what it can do, it’s probably meant for hobbyists; conversely, if it can be easily customised and applied to different needs, it’s a better choice for business applications. To get a good feel for what a particular UAV is capable of, take a look at its list of features – you should quickly be able to see whether it’s built for flexibility or simply intended for basic aerial image capturing.
2. PRECISION AND IMAGE ACCURACY
While many hobby drones come with integrated cameras, the build and functionality of this equipment is not always ideally suited to capturing the highly accurate, detailed images required for commercial mapping purposes. Photographs aren’t always taken at exactly the right moment, image quality is occasionally compromised, and it’s often difficult to ascertain the GPS coordinates of captured images. If precision is key to a successful operation, as it is in so many industries, then it’s essential that you invest in an industrial-grade drone with the right degree of camera integration.
How often do hobbyists make use of their drones? Probably not every day, multiple times a day. It’s therefore not necessary for consumer UAVs to be as robust and durable as commercial UAVs. It is, however, critical that industrial-grade drones can endure daily use in all sorts of environments, and so their construction reflects this need. Another important difference is that manufacturers of commercial models typically give ongoing support and assist with maintenance and repairs; hobby drone suppliers typically won’t do the same.