Should You Invest in Drones: What to Pay for High Tech

Should You Invest in Drones: What to Pay for High Tech

Over the past few years, drone technology has improved by leaps and bounds. The consumer marketplace now offers access to drones that would have seemed like science fiction only a decade ago. Today, businesses are beginning to take full advantage of this rapidly advancing technology for everything from surveying and photography to physical product delivery. If your small or medium-sized business is looking to enhance its operations by integrating modern drone technology, there are many different options and price-points available. Here are some of the critical features you will need to look for in your drones and what you can expect to pay for them.

Great Aerial Camera Features

Most smaller businesses that plan to use drones will be taking advantage of their ability to produce aerial photo and video. For this reason, it’s important to get a drone that has the best possible combination of camera features. Ideally, you should be on the lookout for a camera with automatic stabilization and high-resolution photo capabilities. Some drone cameras are now so advanced that they even offer true 4k video, making them ideal for shooting aerial video of anything from large landscapes to individual people.

If the application you’re using your drone for involves filming people, you may also want to invest in a drone with automatic tracking features which will allow the drone to follow someone once it is filming. For a drone with top-of-the-line camera features, expect to spend $1,200+. If you don’t need advanced camera features, however, you can easily get away with staying closer to the $6-700 price point while still getting a very high-quality drone that will take good photos and video.

Range in Time and Distance

One of the biggest drawbacks to lower-end drones is the fact that they can’t stay in the air long enough for most commercial purposes. If you plan on using a drone in your business, get something that can stay in the air for a fairly long time and cover larger distances when needed. Most higher-end drones in the $1,000+ price range will be able to stay in the air for about 25 minutes, which is long enough for most common uses.

Drone range in terms of distance is actually determined more by the control system than by how long any given drone can stay in the air. After a certain distance, most drones will not be able to effectively receive signals from their controllers. Distance varies based on model, but most drones fall into the 1-2 mile range. A few in the fairly reasonable $1,200-1,300 range, however, are reaching 3 and even 4 mile distances.

Advanced Guidance Features

While many drones are guided manually by the operator, some can make use of more exact guidance and navigation systems. The typical advanced navigation system on most drones uses GPS to direct the drone to exact coordinates. As already noted in the section on camera features, some drones can also lock onto a target and follow it as it moves. Some business applications, such as aerial real estate photography, won’t need such advanced features, but for panoramic photography they can be extremely useful.

Payload

Though most smaller businesses will not use drones to transport things, there are some small business applications where drones make sense in this capacity. If you want to move up from aerial imaging to payload delivery, however, prices go up very quickly based on how much weight a drone can actually move. For a 15-pound payload, expect the price of your drone to exceed $10,000. Higher-capacity drones can exceed $15,000.

Extra Batteries

Though not exactly part of the tech side of the drone equation, one expense all businesses should factor in when considering using drones is spare batteries. Whether you spend $500 or $5,000 on your business’s drone, you should keep plenty of extra batteries on hand to make it functional for extended usage. Depending on just what model of drone you decide to purchase, expect most batteries to run anywhere from $20-100.

Buying a drone for your business is no small investment. Depending on exactly what you plan to use it for, expect to spend $600 or more. For most businesses, a drone in the $1,000-$1,300 range will offer the best balance of high-tech features and reasonable value. Remember, however, to spend more if your business requires it. Buying the wrong drone for the job will only lead to frustration. In some cases, using a drone for the wrong applications can even cause damage to an expensive piece of equipment.

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