The market for commercial drones has been booming. Commercial or professional drones are now real tools, and not just for the audiovisual industry. In fact, professional drones can be used in many other industries, including land surveying, security, and surveillance, infrastructure inspection, agriculture, crop monitoring, etc.
More and more companies using drones underline the advantages of using this powerful technology. There are now enough case studies and positive media reports to make most novice professionals take a fresh look at how drones can help their business or organization.
Perhaps you are one of the many people who already believe in the potential of drones. You may have planned your budget and decided to purchase a commercial drone, but you feel overwhelmed by the many options available to you.
Don't worry! In this article, we're going to discuss several considerations on how to choose a commercial drone and showcase a ranking of popular commercial drones on the market, and much more.
Top 10 commercial & professional drones for sales
Here is our list of the 10 best drones available to meet the needs of a variety of different applications.
JOUAV CW-40 - Best multi-purpose professional drone
As a multi-purpose and long-endurance VTOL drone from the top commercial drone company, the JOUAV CW-40 has good system compatibility, making it an extremely versatile drone that can integrate experimental or mature payloads of any kind. It can carry an ortho camera, gimbal camera, and LiDAR sensor, specifically suitable for large-scale surveying, surveillance, and powerline inspection.
Breaking records for acceleration, responsiveness, and speed, the CW-40 offers high flight performance (autopilot), long endurance of up to 10 hours, and a payload of up to 10kg.
With its superb wind resistance and tough design, the CW-40 can be used in all weather conditions, including extreme heat and cold temperatures, as well as wind, rain, and snow, it is an asset for professionals in demanding outdoor use situations.
Key specs for the CW-40:
- Flight time: 8 hours with 6kg of payload
- Cruising speed: 90km/h
- Max Payload weight: 10kg
- Data link: Over ranges of Max 200km, CW-40 drone can be controlled and maintained a radio/video link over very large distances.
- Fully autonomous: Integrated with advanced flight control and navigation systems, the CW-40 has some autonomous features, including autonomous obstacle avoidance, follow/capture modes, waypoints, and an autonomous return home function.
- Vertical take-off and land: The capabilities of the CW-40 give you more flight time than a quadcopter and more flexibility than a traditional fixed-wing.
- Robust and stable: the CW-40 has been tested in windy weather, heavy rain, high altitude, high salt, and high humidity, which can still fly stably and collect excellent data.
JOUAV CW-15 - Best drone for security & surveillance
The JOUAV CW-15 VTOL drone is one of the most popular surveillance drones on the market. The tethered drone has a unique flight time, robust design, and long transmission range to make it an effective aerial surveillance drone.
This drone is highly durable and can be flown in freezing cold, windy conditions, or wet weather. Powered by a powerful 27000mAh LiPo battery, this long range drone offers an impressive flight time of about 3 hours. This lightweight drone has a payload capacity of 3kg that can be compatible with different types of sensors and tools. Some other specs that make the CW-15 a great choice for drone surveillance include a top cruising speed of 61km/h and an operating range of about 50km.
With the help of artificial intelligence, the CW-15 drone can cope with all kinds of unforeseen and unpredictable emergency situations. It can follow pre-determined flight paths and waypoints instead of having a drone pilot manually fly it every single time.
Key specs for the CW-15:
- Flight time: up to 3 hours
- Cruising speed: 61km/h
- Transmission range: 50km
- Payload: with 3kg of payload capacity, the CW-15 can be compatible with different sensors like optical and thermal gimbal cameras, speakers, police strobe lights, and ortho cameras.
- Robust design: the CW-15 is built to withstand the toughest of environments, which has no problems in windy weather, heavy rain, high altitude, high salt, and high humidity.
- Autonomous flight: the CW-15 can perform automated pre-flight checks, fly safely along the flight path, and take off and land automatically without pilot intervention. This will make it easier to carry out regular and repeated surveillance tasks.
DJI Matrice 300 RTK - Best commercial drone for public safety
Inspired by modern aviation systems, DJI Matrice 300 RTK is DJI's latest commercial UAV platform that comes with impressive features such as a 55-minute flight time, advanced AI capabilities, a 15km flight radius, etc.
What makes the Matrice 300 RTK unique is its payload capacity and versatility, rendering it an indispensable tool for a variety of applications. It can carry three payloads simultaneously with a maximum payload capacity of 2.7 kg, giving you the freedom to mix and match payloads to meet your mission requirements.
With DJI's best obstacle avoidance and aerial awareness tools included in this platform, the Matrice 300 provides the best possible accuracy and safety for your surveillance missions and smart inspections.
Key specs for the DJI Matrice 300 RTK:
- Capable of carrying a variety of specialized payloads
- 15km max transmission range
- 55-minute max flight time with hot-swappable batteries
- 6 directional sensing and positioning
- 23m/s Max speed
DJI Mavic 3 - Best commercial drones for photography/videography
An updated version of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, the DJI Mavic 3 is the best video drone that takes everything we loved about the Mavic 2 Pro and makes it better.
With an impressive flight time of up to 46 minutes, you'll rarely have to worry about battery life. The range has also been improved thanks to the updated O3+ transmission system, allowing you to fly up to 15km away.
Of course, there are also substantial improvements in imaging, which greatly improves the detail and quality of shots taken from high altitudes. This is thanks to its 4/3 CMOS sensor (which is larger than the one on the DJI Mavic 2). It now allows you to shoot at 5.1K 50fps, while also adding high frame rate options such as 4K 120fps.
The Mavic 3 does all of this while maintaining a compact form factor and weighing slightly less than its predecessor. Awesome stuff.
Key specs for the DJI Mavic 3:
- Total weight: 895g/899g
- Flight time: 46 minutes
- Camera: 4/3 CMOS, 12MP 1/2" CMOS
- Lens offers 7x optical and 28x digital zoom
- Resolution: 5.1K/50fps and 4K12O VIDEO
- All-round obstacle avoidance
Flyability Elios 2 - Best professional drone for indoor inspections
Elios 2 is a professional indoor inspection drone from Flyability, ideal for visual inspections, confined space exploration, and large-scale industrial operations. It has seven visual stabilization sensors pointing in all directions, which gives the drone GPS-free stabilization, making it easier to fly and producing more stable video footage.
Equipped with a carbon fiber cage that surrounds the aircraft itself, the Flyability Elios 2 can roll along floors, ceilings, and walls, performing tasks that any other drone would destroy in a matter of seconds.
The Flyability Elios 2 has two image sensors, a high-definition visible light camera, and a low-resolution thermal camera. The thermal camera is suitable for use in low light situations and the visible light camera ensures you get the clearest possible picture in live video. In addition to this, it has an intelligent adjustable illumination device consisting of LED lights for improved situational awareness in large spaces.
Key specs for the Flyability Elios 2:
- 10k lumen adjustable, dustproof lighting system
- GPS-free stabilization
- Distance lock mode
- 180-degree tiltable camera
- Full HD live streaming
- 4k video/12MP still images from RGB camera
- Oblique lighting
WingtraOne Gen II - Best drone for mapping & surveying
The WingtraOne GEN II mapping drone is the perfect tool for geospatial professionals who need to carry out aerial drone surveys for large projects. With its unique VTOL features, the WingtraOne GEN II is extremely efficient in flight, allowing you to cover large areas in a short time.
Equipped with high-resolution oblique imagery payload integration, you can capture a wider area in each flight, with more ground and detail in every shot. And with the high-accuracy PPK GNSS receiver on board, you don't need to worry about ground control points (GCPs).
With self-diagnostics, fail-safe algorithms, and serviceable, reliable operation. Whether you're mapping a construction site or surveying farmland, the WingtraOne GEN II is your drone of choice for reliable, professional results.
Key specs for the WingtraOne GEN II:
- Weight (empty):7 kg (8.1 lb)
- Max payload weight: 1.8 pounds (800 grams)
- Max flight speed: 35.8 mph (16 m/s)
- Max flight time: 59 minutes
Sensefly eBeex - Best commercial drone for surveying & GIS
The senseFly eBee X is the fixed-wing drone for all your mapping needs. It is designed to improve the quality, efficiency, and safety of your data collection. Its 90-minute maximum flight time allows you to cover a wide area in a minimum of time. Additional RTK and PPK help you achieve centimeter-level accuracy without GCP.
The eBee X has an ultra-rugged design that allows you to work in almost any location. Compatible with a wide range of interchangeable photogrammetry cameras, this drone can capture reliable aerial imagery, from 3D models to orthomosaics, to suit every mapping job.
Key specs for the senseFly eBee X:
- Cruise speed: 40-110 km/h (11-30 m/s or 25-68 mph)
- Max. flight time: 90 minutes
- 1.6 kg / 3.6 lbs takeoff weight
- Wind resistance: Up to 46 km/h (12.8 m/s or 28.6 mph)
- RTK and PPK are available
Freefly Alta 8 - Best commercial drone for filmmaking
The Freefly Alta 8 is the premier drone designed for filmmakers. Its 8 propellers for filming and landing safety are perfect for cinematic-style shoots. 35mph top speed is enough to fly the drone from one side of the set to the other, and a maximum payload of 20lbs means it's easy enough to hook any size camera to it. Just be sure it's the right camera to get the shots you need!
The Freefly Alta 8 allows a 45-degree flight angle to produce smooth, precise, and dramatic camera motion control. Its quick-release top-grip inverted landing gear not only makes landings safer but also makes shooting video quicker. However, this drone only has a short battery life of 8-34 minutes, depending on the load you put on the drone.
Key specs for the Freefly Alta 8:
- Max payload: 9.1kg (20 lbs)
- Top speed: 35 mph
- Flight time: 8-34 minutes (depending on payload & environment)
- Automatic data logging
- Adjustable real-time speed limit
Yuneec H520 - Best drone for construction and inspection
The Yuneec H520 is a six-rotor drone with an integrated enterprise-grade camera and mission planning software for high-end commercial use. It is specifically made for inspection, law enforcement, security, search and rescue, construction, surveying, mapping, and cinematography.
Even at first glance, you can tell H520 is a commercial drone by its size and construction. The rotor blades are longer and the fuselage looks thicker, allowing it to work in rough weather and complex terrain.
The H520 has powerful motors to give the drone more speed and better performance in windy conditions. Exclusive flight speed control provides the slowest speed above stall flight for maximum accuracy in challenging conditions.
Key specs for the Yuneec H520:
- Weight (with battery, without gimbal): 1.6kg
- Flight time: up to 28 min
- Stable and safe 6-rotor system
- 4 km long-range OFDM module
- High wind-resistant airframe
- Ortho and geo-mapping capabilities
DJI Agras MG-1 - Best commercial drones for agriculture
The DJI Agras MG-1 drone is a multi-purpose device that can spray liquid pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers at different speeds, pushing agricultural efficiency to new heights and making it the perfect drone for farmers.
With its superior aerial photography talent, the DJI Agras MG-1 drone allows you to track the land down to the smallest detail. By providing an aerial view of each field, the DJI Agras MG-1 helps farmers determine crop health management, weed identification, pest control, fertilizer, and water distribution requirements for the area.
This large commercial drone can carry up to 10 kg of liquid payloads such as pesticides and fertilizers. With its amazing combination of speed and power, an area of 4,000-6,000 square meters may be sprayed in around 10 minutes, 40 to 60 times faster than manual spraying. Featuring a clever spraying system, it adjusts its spraying to the speed of the aircraft, ensuring an even application at all times. In this way, the dose of pesticide or fertilizer used is accurately controlled to prevent contamination and save money.
Key specs for the DJI Agras MG-1:
- Diagonal Wheelbase: 1520 mm
- Frame Arm Length: 625 mm
- Unfold arms Dimensions:1471mm x 1471mm x 482mm
- Fold arms Dimensions: 780mm x 780mm x 482mm
- Stator Size: 60mm x 10 mm
- Total Weight: 8.8 kg
- Standard Takeoff Weight: 22.5 kg
- Max Takeoff Weight: 24.5 kg
How to choose the right drone for commercial use?
A professional drone is not a one-size-fits-all investment. For example, depending on factors such as the size and location of your workplace, you will have several options to choose from when selecting your first drone. Below, we will look at a few of these considerations：
When choosing the right commercial drone, it is important to first ask yourself why you need a drone. Your drone applications will determine whether you need a multi-rotor, fixed wing, or VTOL drone. The type of wing has a big impact on the maneuverability and endurance of your drone. In terms of maneuverability, multi-rotors are the easiest to handle. Not only can they take off and land vertically, but they can also hover in the air and are less expensive. They are mainly used for small-area operations, as well as for bridge or pipeline inspections where a more detailed capture of the underlying structure is required.
Compared to multi-rotor drones, fixed-wing have longer flight times, faster speed, more durable structures, and more advanced features, which are mainly used for mapping and inspection of larger sites, such as highways, industrial complexes, or mining areas.
It is worth noting that VTOL fixed-wing drones like the JOUAV CW Series have propellers and can hover and take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but their flight times and speeds are just as superior as those of fixed-wing drones. VTOL fixed-wing drones allow you to carry out large-scale drone surveys with the precise data quality that you might get with a quadrotor drone for only a fraction of that.
Payloads are also a crucial thing to know about when purchasing a commercial drone. Industrial drones have a certain weight of equipment built into them and are sometimes equipped with stands to store the objects or documents to be transported. If your drone is being used to transport objects, we recommend that you pay particular attention to its payload. This could be from a few kilograms to 50 kg for high-end models.
Furthermore, many commercial drones can be equipped with different types of payloads, such as orthographic cameras, video cameras, thermal imagers, or LiDAR sensors, but not all payloads can be changed by the operator. So you need to choose types of drones and payloads, depending on your mission and the data results you want to get.
Just like any other product you buy, you need to consider your budget. Fixed wing and VTOL drones cost between $25,000-$30,000, while multi-rotor drones cost less, closer to between $8,000-$18,000. However, multi-rotors are not as designed and constructed as fixed-wing, so they are not as durable as fixed-wing and VTOL drones. In addition to the cost of the drone, you also need to consider the cost of payloads, replacement parts, upgrades, and insurance.
Battery life is another essential factor in making a choice, especially if you are surveying a large field. Shorter battery life will limit your production power and reduce your drone flying experience. This is because you have more downtime to change batteries during the flight and have to lug a box full of batteries to the site. However, if you only have a few acres to cover on each mission, then battery life is not as important. Note that multi-rotor drones usually have a shorter endurance than fixed wing models, typically only 20-40 minutes, but fixed wing drones have up to 50-120 minutes of flight time
As you may know, each country follows a specific set of drone laws and they must be followed strictly. Flight altitudes, times, and locations - everything should be well planned to avoid air accidents. Violating the rules may cause large-scale damage, so buyers are urged to keep up to date with their government's guidelines. Each drone buyer must sign an authorization letter from the agency and the flight rules must be strictly followed.