How to Choose the Best Drone for Your Business

Drones continue to prove their versatility and usefulness.

The growing list of companies utilizing UAVs underscores the advantages of using this powerful technology. There are now enough case studies and positive media coverage to make most uninitiated professionals take a second look at how drones can help their business or organization.

Perhaps you are one of the many people who are already convinced of the potential of drones. You may have already decided to purchase a drone, but you feel overwhelmed by the numerous options available.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Many people and companies want to explore using UAVs, but they’re not sure what to purchase. So, how do you choose the right drone for your business?

In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the key factors to consider when deciding which drone is best suited for your needs and budget.

It should be noted that, with so many options available, it never hurts to speak with an expert.

Drones can represent a substantial investment, and drone consultancy firms can help make the entire experience much more manageable.

Factors to Consider When Picking the Best Drone for Your Business

When selecting a drone for your business needs, there are four factors to be considered.

Only after reflecting on these factors can you make an informed decision on which UAV platform is best for you.

 

Business Needs

 

The first, and perhaps most important element, is to decide which business needs you are trying to address.

Perhaps you are hoping drones can open up new revenue streams. If you have workers inspecting facilities at dangerous heights, maybe you are looking for safer alternatives.

Clearly defined needs are essential to pairing your organization with the best UAV system for your specific situation.

 

Systems

 

Once you have decided which needs you are looking to address, you must then determine what you expect your UAV system to provide.

With commercial drones, these outputs include products you will use for your organization and your clients.

Suppose you only need to capture high-resolution imagery. In this case, you will find more UAVs on the market than if you needed to generate 3D point clouds for modeling, or multispectral images for agriculture.

 

Hardware

 

Hardware is your next consideration.

When evaluating your hardware needs, think of the UAV system as a whole. Hardware includes the drone, payload, and controller (or base station).

Ask yourself if the drone needs to have specific capabilities. Does it need to operate in adverse  weather conditions? Does it need to have a particular duration of flight?

If the platform will be used for inspections or mapping, does it need Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) or Post-Processing Kinematic (PPK) for the collection of accurate survey-level data?

The payload for your drone will depend on your needs and outputs. Typical payloads include RGB cameras, lidar, thermal cameras, multispectral cameras, and more.

In some cases, payloads can far exceed the value of the drone. Some lidar units, for example, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The controller typically comes with the drone, but specific circumstances may require you to choose the best remote for your needs. Should the controller have a simple user interface, or are you looking for a customizable remote based on individual requirements?

 

Software

 

Finally, the software of the UAV platform is also an important thing to consider.

Software can include what is loaded on the drone when it is purchased, or third party software compatible with the UAV.

Some platforms come with preloaded functions, such as setting waypoints or circling above a point of interest without much input from the operator. Other platforms leave the entire flying experience up to the manual control of the pilot.

For this reason, you may find it beneficial to focus on the skills of the pilot operating the drone.

Two Additional Considerations

As with any business decision, cost, and the return on investment (ROI) are essential to consider.

Commercial drones range in price from several hundred dollars to several hundred thousand dollars. Before purchasing, find the ROI that makes the most sense for your business.

Take the time to decide when you want to reach a breakeven point on your investment. Do not look for a UAV solution that cannot support your financial goals.

Remember that your ROI should include the revenue generated by your drone as well the money saved by it.

Will the drone lower your human resource needs? Have you factored in lower insurance rates as drones help keep people out of dangerous areas?

Think of the entire ecosystem of your operation and how the UAV will impact it when calculating ROI. You’ll probably find that it pays for itself much faster than you predicted it would.

Considering these points will help point you in the right direction. There are many options on the market and with a little planning, you will find the right one for you.

Need support with choosing the right drone for your business? We’re here to help you find a better way with drones. Complete the form below to get started!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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