The popularity of commercial drones has been steadily increasing over the past few years. From high-resolution cameras to logistics and transportation, drone technology has evolved to the point where it is no longer a fragile camera that cannot raise payload items.
Heavy lift drones are large drones with the ability to carry and operate 10 pounds and more of heavy payloads used to transport cargo, packages, food, medical supplies, etc. These drones are not only designed to lift cargo and materials but also heavy-duty cameras used for photography and videography.
If you are looking for such a heavy-duty drone that can carry weight or things, you are just on the right page. Below, we review the best heavy lifting drones in the market. We'll also look at how a heavy payload drone works and how much weight a drone can carry.
How much weight can a drone carry?
Asking how much weight a drone can carry is like asking how fast a car can go. The short answer is that how much a drone can carry depends on the type of UAV and the purposes for which it is designed.
The function of amateur drones is not to carry extra loads, but to take pictures and help beginners learn the basics of flying. They can usually only hold 500g, or even less than 100g in some cases.
Heavy lifting drones are different in that they are specifically designed to carry weight, such as those used for drone delivery. The technology behind these is quite impressive, and they can generally handle payloads of 20 kg to 220 kg. Some drones have the ability to carry more than 50% of their original weight as an additional payload.
Types of heavy lift drone
The nature of the missions required for these drones, such as surveillance, filming, surveying, and inspection, lends itself to vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing drones and multi-rotor drones with hover-in-place capabilities.
Multi-rotor drones, such as heavy quadcopters, heavy hexacopters, and octocopters, are characterized by their simplicity of assembly and deployment, while VTOL drones have a larger payload capacity and longer flight times.
What are heavy lift drones used for?
Many companies have identified commercial and military applications for heavy payload drones and are taking advantage of the opportunity to use drones for multiple purposes to effectively manage their workflows.
Engineering companies can make good use of heavy-duty drones carrying high-quality cameras, which they can use for in-depth projects such as maintenance inspections, transmission cables, and oil pipelines. A drone in construction can also help engineers perform various critical activities such as airport planning and road maintenance, making efficiency exponentially higher.
Cargo and delivery
Drone delivery is one of the fastest-growing and most popular applications of drones. Cargo drones are being used to deliver medical and healthcare supplies such as medicines, blood, and vaccines. Heavy lift delivery drones can also deliver goods and mail to remote communities, which is both faster and cheaper than transitional transportation methods.
Farmers can reap multiple benefits from heavy-lift agricultural drones, which they can use for spraying fertilizer or pesticide. Using this technology to perform these time-consuming tasks can help farmers save significant amounts of overhead and time.
Heavy lift drones are also used for emergency response, which can bring food, fuel, water, supplies, medicine, communications, and even electricity to areas hard hit by natural or man-made disasters - and can do so faster and more efficiently than any other platform.
Military heavy lift drones have improved military capabilities around the world in many ways; they are used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and transporting materials such as explosives and heavy weapons. They can also deliver equipment to areas that are too dangerous for manned flight, such as resupply in frontline areas, and casualty evacuation.
Components of a heavy payload drone
The average heavy payload drone is made up of three important parts. Below is a list of the parts that make up a heavy lift drone and what they do:
Heavy lift drone motors
Taking off with heavy weight is not an easy task. The heavy lift drone motors must generate a lot of upward propulsion. Generally, larger and heavier drones use brushless motors because they can carry the extra weight of the electronics. In addition to this, innovative counter-rotating drone motors are becoming popular, offering greater thrust and higher efficiency than standard single-rotating motors.
Heavy lift drone propellers
Constructed of carbon fiber, which is lighter than plastic, the propellers of heavy-duty drones provide better flight performance. Typically, heavy lift multi-rotors have greater than four propellers, their longer blades give the stability and balance needed, and the smaller pitch easily carries the extra weight associated with the longer blades.
Heavy lift drone gimbal
Gimbals for heavy-duty UAVs are designed to accommodate a wide range of cameras, sensors, and payloads, providing stable footage for numerous industrial applications, such as mapping and surveys. With the gimbal attachment, the concern that the pilot must keep the drone stable while flying is eliminated because the gimbal's sophisticated technology allows for an almost completely automated process. There is no need to worry about the drone's lens wobbling.
Factors to consider before buying a heavy lift drone
Before purchasing a heavy lift drone, it is important to consider the features and functions that the drone has to ensure that it will do its job.
The first thing you need to consider before buying a drone is "why should I buy it?" because this will determine how you use the drone and whether it needs to carry additional cameras or sensors.
Since you will be using these types of drones to lift objects, you must consider the battery life that will allow you to stay in the air for longer. If a drone can carry 20 kg but can only stay in the air for 5 minutes, it is useless because it can't even reach the set destination.
- Are you looking for a drone with longest flight time? Click to see the list of the top 10 long-flying drones in 2022.
Type of payload
We recommend buying a drone with a built-in camera, but not every drone is equipped with one. You need to be aware of the mechanism you will use to allow the drone to carry a payload. Can it be carried with a traditional connection, or will you need to customize a solution for your specific situation?
Another key factor is whether the price of the drone fits your budget. Drones range from entry-level to high-end drones, with all the bells and whistles. Before spending any money, you need to think about the drone model and features you really need.
7 Best heavy lift drones for sale
We have ranked the eight finalist large UAVs from the smallest payload to the largest. For convenience, here's a comparison table：
Max lifting weight
10 kg (22 lbs)
10 kg (22 lbs)
Freefly Alta X
15 kg (35 lbs)
25 kg (55 lbs)
Draganfly Heavy Lift Drone
30 kg (66 lbs)
100 kg (220 lbs)
GRIFF Aviation 300
227 kg (500 lbs)
JOUAV PH-25 - Best LiDAR drone that can carry 22 lbs
Engineered with a hexacopter design, the PH-25's prowess lies in its ability to effortlessly carry payloads up to 20 pounds, making it an ideal carrier for high-quality LiDAR equipment. Its impressive 60-minute maximum flight time and a swift 15m/s maximum flight speed allow you to cover vast areas with unparalleled agility.
Crafted from a blend of aluminum alloy and high-performance composite materials, this LiDAR drone seamlessly integrates an intelligent flight system, a triple redundancy IMU, and adaptive controls for ultimate precision. Its onboard microcomputer effortlessly manages a diverse array of data types.
Additionally, fail-safe measures provide an extra layer of security, including automatic return in cases of data link loss or low voltage. Featuring obstacle avoidance radar, IP43 protection, wind resistance rating of 6, and an impressive maximum altitude of 5000 meters, the PH-25 thrives in the face of challenging environments.
- Max lifting weight: 10 kg (22 lbs)
- Flight time: 60 min
- Max speed: 54 km/h (no wind)
- Max transmission distance: 15 km
- Box Dimensions: 850 mm×850 mm×900mm
- Max take-off weight: 29 kg
- Max wind resistance: Level 6
- Protection level: IP43
JOUAV CW-30E - Best surveillance drone that can carry 20 lbs
As a very versatile and efficient VTOL fixed-wing drone, JOUAV CW-30E is one of the most effective autonomous security drones on the market. The CW-30E features a flight time of 400 minutes, a maximum flight speed of 90 km/h, and a transmission distance of up to 200 km.
With the built-in MG-170E dual EO/IR gimbal camera, the CW-30E can perform AI automatic identification, tracking, and positioning of people and objects, and transmit real-time video to the command center. This thermal drone has been widely used in border patrol, emergency response, energy inspection, fire fighting, search and rescue, etc.
The CW-30E large drone with a camera is very easy to use thanks to a fantastic autopilot system and excellent obstacle avoidance system that allow the device to take off capture data, and land on its own.
- Max lifting weight: 10 kg (22 lbs)
- Flight time: 600 min
- Max speed: 90 km/h
- Max Transmission Distance: 100/200 km (optional)
- Size: Fuselage - 2300 mm, Wingspan - 4600 mm
- Maximum takeoff weight: 45 kg
- Operating temperature: -20° to 55°C
Freefly Alta X - Best cinema drone that can carry 35 lbs
With an impressive lifting capacity of 35 lbs (15 kg),Freefly Alta X redefines what's possible in cinematography. Whether you're aiming to capture breathtaking landscapes, dynamic action sequences, or intricate aerial shots, the Alta X empowers your creative vision like never before. Its robust design and cutting-edge engineering ensure stability and precision, even when carrying heavy camera setups, making it the go-to choice for professional filmmakers who demand unparalleled performance.
Equipped with a remarkable flight time of 20 minutes, the Alta X doesn't just stop at lifting capacity – it combines endurance with power. Thanks to its adaptable design, flight time can vary based on payload and environmental conditions, providing flexibility for a range of shooting scenarios. With a top speed of 95 km/h, you can effortlessly track fast-paced subjects, achieving stunning cinematic sequences that were once thought impossible.
- Max lifting weight: 15 kg (35 lbs)
- Flight time: 20 min (Depending on payload & environment)
- Max speed: 95 km/h
- Max Transmission Distance: 5 km
- Unfolded Diameter: 2273 mm×877 mm×387 mm (Including Props)
- Typical standard empty weight: 10.86 kg
- Operating temperature: -10° to 40°C
JOUAV CW-80E - Best mapping drone that can carry 50 lbs
The CW-80E can stay afloat for more than 840 minutes at a maximum speed of 135 km/h. With a payload capacity of up to 25 kg, the long range drone allows the flexibility to carry large high-end sensors, such as hyperspectral and bathymetric LiDARs, and SAR radar for large-area surveys.
Combined with the RTK and PPK modules, this big drone with camera not only provides highly accurate data but also ensures that you get the maximum possible coverage. In addition, the CW-80E RTK drone completes its mission completely autonomously from takeoff to landing, even out of communication range.
The CW-80E drone is equipped with built-in software, FlightSurv, for easy management of data acquisition. This intuitive application allows you to automate your UAV flight planning, data acquisition, and image transmission. In addition, it helps you create detailed and accurate 2D and 3D visualizations.
- Read more: What is 3D drone mapping? What is used for?
- Max lifting weight: 25 kg (55 lbs)
- Flight time: 840 min
- Max speed: 135 km/h
- Max Transmission Distance: 100/200 km (optional)
- Size: Fuselage - 3000 mm, Wingspan - 5200 mm
- Maximum takeoff weight: 110 kg
- Operating temperature: -20° to 55°C
Draganfly Heavy Lift Drone - Best delivery drone that can carry 50 lbs
The Draganfly Heavy Lift drone is a super heavy lift drone that can deliver packages weighing up to 67 pounds (30 kilograms) to customers within 18 miles (30 kilometers). With a 15″ x 17″ x 34″ payload box, you can fit any size object or package. It supports LTE autonomous navigation and an advanced flight control system, which can automatically ship your packages anywhere you want.
Compatible with a variety of interchangeable payloads, this drone has the flexibility to carry high-end sensors such as LiDAR sensors and hyperspectral cameras to conduct large-scale drone surveying.
- Max lifting weight: 30 kg (66 lbs)
- Flight time: 55 min
- Max speed: 79 km/h
- Max Transmission Distance: 20 km
- Size: folded diameter - 843 mm, folded height - 364 mm, unfold diameter without propellers - 2448 mm, unfolded height without landing gear - 770 mm
- Weight: 44kg (97 lbs)
Ehang 184 - Best large drone that can lift a person 200 lbs
The Ehang 184 is the world's first electric passenger-grade autonomous extra large drone that can accommodate a person weighing up to 220 lbs（100 kg) in its small cabin. Its technology for autonomous flight avoids the possibility of malfunctions or failures due to human error. Passengers can just sit back and enjoy the ride without worrying about controlling or operating the aircraft.
Using 4G/5G as a high-speed wireless transmission channel, the giant drone can communicate smoothly with the command and control center, thus enabling remote control of the aircraft and real-time transmission of flight data.
- Max lifting weight: 100 kg (220 lbs)
- Flight time: 23 min
- Max speed: 100 km/h
- Max Transmission Distance: 30 km
- Size: Fuselage length - 4000 mm, wingspan 4000 mm, overall height 1400 mm
- Weight: 260 kg
GRIFF Aviation 300 - Extra large drone that can carry 500 lbs
Designed with an 8-propeller, the Griff Aviation 300 is the heaviest lift drone that can carry a payload weight of approximately 500 pounds (226 kg) and sustain 31 minutes of flight time. The modular design enables rapid swapping of payloads and batteries in seconds.
This huge drone is waterproof and designed to carry advanced optical systems for industrial, military, law enforcement, and search and rescue applications. Compliant with all European UAS construction safety regulations, the GRIFF Aviation 30 is fully customizable, including the UAS and payload.
- Max lifting weight: 227 kg (500 lbs)
- Flight time: 31 min
- Max speed: 60 km/h
- Max Transmission Distance: 15 km
- Size: Length: 3400 m, width: 1200 m, height: 600 m
- Maximum takeoff weight: 235 kg
How much does a large drone cost?
The average cost of a large drone ranges from $48,000 to $80,000, depending on the configuration required. Yep, they are so expensive! The batteries alone to run such a heavy drone are very expensive. Not to mention, they require expensive power-hungry motors to spin the large propellers that provide enough thrust to overcome gravity.
- Read more: How much does a drone cost? Here's a price breakdown
Can you buy a drone that can lift a person?
Yes, certain large commercial drones can lift and carry a person, like Ehang 184 and GRIFF Aviation 300. Their lifting capacity depends on the power, dead weight, type of propeller, and the number of motors.
In the past, the batteries were too heavy to carry enough energy to create enough lift to get off the ground. The motors were not efficient enough to convert enough power to the blades. However, with the development of brushless motors, LiPO batteries, and gas powered drones these conditions have changed.
Nowadays, many giant drones can lift more than 400 lbs, which means they can easily lift a person as well.
What is the largest drone you can fly without a license?
According to the FAA Small Drone Rule Part 107, for drones weighing more than 250 grams, you need a license or permit, even if your drone is just for fun.
How far can a large drone fly?
It depends on what the large drone is designed for. Delivery and passenger drones generally have a range from 500-1800 km. But efficient surveillance drones needs need a range of 10-150 km, and for mapping drones a range of 4-8 km is sufficient.