UAV Systems

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Overview

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also known as UAVs, Drones or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), are essentially flying robots that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously. They are able to carry cargo, cameras, and sensors in order to perform many useful and exciting tasks.

Although this technology is decades old, recent advances in the size and cost of electronics have made it accessible to a larger community of people. Today the technology is widely used by enthusiasts for recreational and personal uses, and is increasingly being used for commercial purposes around the world. With the creation new of laws and regulations in many countries to allow for safe and commercial use of this technology, UAVs are set to open a new chapter in the history of aviation which will change many aspects our world for the better.

The pioneers of this revolution are the enthusiasts and professionals that are building, buying, using, developing and promoting this technology. You can get started today by joining a local or online UAV community, and by using the guidelines on this article to buy or build your first UAV.

Selection

Use the following flowchart to help you select the UAV most appropiate for your needs. Click on the green boxes to read more information.

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Product Listing

The following section lists and compares the most popular UAV systems in the market today.

Popular Ready to Fly UAVs

This comparison table lists popular UAVs that are ready to fly (RTF) out of the box, or almost ready to fly (ARF). Almost ready to fly means that you might need to buy a few components separately, and the UAV might need minimal assembly before flight. Note that even if the UAV does not include a certain subsystem or feature, they can usually be bought separately and integrated to the UAV.

UAV Name Company Airframe Type Configuration Size (Longest Dimension, mm) Transmitter Included Autopilot Included (At least loiter and return to home capacity) FPV Included Telemetry Included HD Camera Included Camera Gimbal Included Flight Time (minutes) Approximate Cost ($USD)
3DR Iris 3D Robotics Multicopter Quadcopter 550 Yes Yes No Yes Optional Optional 10-15 (7-8 with gimbal) 750
3DR Y6 3D Robotics Multicopter Y6 500 Optional Yes Optional Optional Optional Optional 12-15 1100
3DR X8 3D Robotics Multicopter X8 - Optional Yes Optional Optional Optional Optional 12-13 1350
3DR Aero 3D Robotics Airplane Standard Pusher 1880 Optional Yes Optional Optional No Optional 40 1350
Phantom 1 DJI Multicopter Quadcopter 350 Yes Yes No No Optional No 10-15 479
Phantom FC40 DJI Multicopter Quadcopter 350 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No 10-15 500
Phantom 2 DJI Multicopter Quadcopter 350 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 10-15 1000
Flame Wheel F450 RTF DJI Multicopter Quadcopter 450 Yes Yes No No No No 20 890
Flame Wheel F550 RTF DJI Multicopter Quadcopter 550 Yes Yes No No No No 20 999
200 QX Blade Multicopter Quadcopter 142 No No No No No No 5-7 230
350 QX Blade Multicopter Quadcopter 465 No Yes No No Yes No 10-15 470
350 QX2 AP Combo Blade Multicopter Quadcopter 465 Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes 10-15 1000
180 QX HD Blade Multicopter Quadcopter 292 No No No No Yes No 5-10 180
AR Drone 2.0 Parrot Multicopter Quadcopter 517 No No Yes Yes Yes No 10-12 250
QR X350 Pro Walkera Multicopter Quadcopter 350 Yes Yes No No Yes Yes 20-25 659
QR X350 Walkera Multicopter Quadcopter 350 Yes Yes No No No No 10-15 429
TBS Discovery ARF Team Blacksheep Multicopter Quadcopter 400 No Yes Yes No Yes No 10-15 869
Techpod Hobby UAV Airplane Standard Pusher 2660 - Yes Yes Optional Yes No 60-120 799
Ifly Apollo Idea Fly Multicopter Quadcopter 310 Yes Yes No No Yes Yes 10-12 379
QU4D Steadi Drone Multicopter Quadcopter 645 Yes Yes No No Yes Yes 18 1999
QU4D X Steadi Drone Multicopter Quadcopter 1240 Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes 20-60 14999
QAV 250 Lumenier Multicopter Quadcopter 250 No Optional No Optional No No 7-10 539
QAV 400 Lumenier Multicopter Quadcopter 400 No Optional No Optional No No 10 495
QAV 500 Lumenier Multicopter Quadcopter 500 No No No No No No 10-15 523
QAV 540 G Lumenier Multicopter Quadcopter 540 No No No No No Yes 10-15 1269
TBS Zephyr Team Blacksheep Airplane Flying Wing 1371 No No Yes No No No 50 1999
E384 Event 38 Airplane Standard Pusher 1880 Yes Yes No Yes Yes No 80 2100

Popular UAV Airframes

These airframes require buying all the recommended components separately and assembling the UAV. They are usually more customizable and easier to repair than ready to fly or almost ready to fly UAVs.

UAV Name Company Airframe Type Configuration Size (Longest Dimension, mm) Camera Gimbal Included Flight Time (minutes) Payload Capacity (grams) Approximate Cost ($USD)
Flame Wheel F450 DJI Multicopter Quadcopter 450 No 10-12 300-500 190
Flame Wheel F550 DJI Multicopter Quadcopter 550 No 10-12 500-1000 190
TBS Caipirinha Team Blacksheep Airplane Flying WIng 850 No 35 250 99
RVJet Range Video Airplane Flying Wing 1950 Yes 30 - 250
HK Go Discover Hobby King Airplane Flying Wing 1600 Yes 30 - 120
Blackout Mini H Quad Frame Blackout Multicopter H Quadcopter 220 No 5-10 - 150
Blackout Mini Spider Hex Blackout Multicopter Spider Hexacopter 290 No 11-13 - 219
Blackout Mini X Blackout Multicopter X Quadcopter 245 No 5-10 - 99
Anycopter Quad 370 Kit Flitetest Multicopter Quadcopter 370 No - - 59
Anycopter Tri 370 Kit Flitetest Multicopter Tricopter 370 No - - 59
Knuckle H-Quad 370 Kit Flitetest Multicopter H Quadcopter 370 No - - 59
Bat Bone Tri 370 Kit Flitetest Multicopter Tricopter 370 No - - 79
HK Bixler ARF HobbyKing Airplane Pusher 1500 No 20-30 300 69

Popular UAVs for Learning to Fly

These UAVs are sold ready to fly and are easy to set up and use. Also, they are crash-resistant and inexpensive.

UAV Name Company Airframe Type Configuration Size (Longest Dimension, mm) Flight Time (minutes) Approximate Cost ($USD)
HK Bixler RTF HobbyKing Airplane Standard Pusher 1500 20-30 111
Walkera QR Ladybird RTF Walkera Multicopter Quadcopter 85 6-8 169
Walkera QR Ladybird RTF Walkera Multicopter Quadcopter 85 6-8 169
Heli-Max 1SQ with Radio Heli-Max Multicopter Quadcopter 123 5-7 99
Nano QX RTF Blade Multicopter Quadcopter 140 5-8 110
Blade CX2 RTF Blade Helicopter Electric 417 10-15 160
Blade mCX2 RTF Blade Helicopter Electric 200 8-10 100