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If you are an amateur in the world of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), you may wonder about the various types of drones out there. The best drones, after all, come in a wide array of shapes and sizes, with many excelling in one or two specific tasks. So what are the different drone types, and what should you consider before making a purchase? Keep reading to find out.
There are plenty of different drones out there, which you’ll realize when comparing drones vs quadcopters. Are you looking for a leading waterproof drone? You have plenty of options with regard to design, and the same goes when shopping for the finest underwater drone. Here are the major types of drones available for purchase so you can stop shopping and start learning how to fly a quadcopter drone, among other variants.
If this is your first drone, don’t be afraid to start small to minimize your investment.
This is the most basic type of drone. The design traces back to RC helicopters, though they also find use in the world of drone racing and in commercial applications. As the name suggests, these drones include a single rotor, though some feature an additional smaller rotor on the tail unit.
Though often considered bare-bones, heavy-duty single-rotor drones are a great choice for industrial applications, thanks to the increased durability accompanying premium designs.
As the name indicates, these drones boast multiple rotor blades, allowing for increased control and additional benefits compared to their single-rotor cousins. There is no universally accepted number of rotors that make up this category, so you’ll find tricopters, quadcopters, hexacopters, and even octocopters. This class makes up the vast majority of entry-level consumer drones.
Just as single-rotor drones resemble helicopters, fixed-wing drones resemble airplanes or gliders. These drones feature one rigid wing and tend to have very large wingspans. They are available in various sizes and weights and typically require a runway or a person to provide a throwing headstart to fly. Rarely, fixed-wing drones can take off vertically in a manner similar to other types.
The newest drone on the block, these vehicles combine the features of a multi-rotor drone with that of a fixed-wing model. In other words, VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drones ascend with rotor blades, but once in the air, they shift to a fixed-wing, with the ability to glide like an airplane. This best-of-both-worlds approach has caused this type of drone to become popular in a short amount of time.
Otherwise called nano drones or mini drones, toy drones are intended for kids and amateur pilots. As you can imagine, these drones are on the smaller and lighter side, especially compared to more advanced designs. Nano drones are the smallest of this type, fitting in the palm of the hand, followed by mini drones. Beyond size, these drones typically feature a multi-rotor design.
Using a drone for commercial purposes requires a license from the FAA, and failure to obtain one can result in hefty fines.
STAT: The term drone has been used from the early days of aviation, being applied to remotely-flown target aircraft used for practice firing of a battleship’s guns, such as the 1920s Fairey Queen and 1930s de Havilland Queen Bee. (source)