There is no doubt that drones are one of the most disruptive technologies today. In recent years the drone sector has experienced exponential growth and a good example of this is the large number of aircraft that have been released in such a short time.
In Aerial Insights we dedicated ourselves exclusively to the processing of drone images to generate different types of maps (orthophotos, point clouds, dsm, dtm…) through our online platform. While it is true that our platform is compatible with all drones and cameras on the market you have to know how to differentiate which type of drone is most suitable depending on the work to be done. If you want to know more about the potential of our paltaform you can do it from here.
In the following lines we will analyze the different types of drones that exist on the market and analyze their main characteristics.
Types of drones: fixed wing and rotary wing
There are different types of RPAs classifications but we will focus exclusively on the types of drones depending on their type of support. So, we have fixed-wing drones and rotary-wing drones.
Fixed-wing drones are aircraft that have a wing profile that allows the aircraft to move through the air and be able to generate sustaining forces to stay in the air. These types of drones have an aesthetic very similar to radio control aeromodels.
The main feature of this type of drones is the great autonomy they offer us since they can be flying for several hours thanks to their aerodynamic efficiency. Fixed-wing drones are ideal for mapping large areas of terrain as a single battery covers large areas of terrain. For this reason they are widely used drones in precision agriculture and photogrammetry work
Unlike rotary-wing drones, stationary flights are not possible with this type of drone. Therefore, we will not be able to carry out work that requires the drone to be flying fixed at a certain height such as inspection work.
Another peculiarity of this type of drone is that they cannot take off or land vertically. For the take-off of a fixed-wing drone, you’ll need a person to launch it by hand or have a catapult directly. The vast majority of today’s fixed-wing drones are already able to make landings autonomously but it must be taken into account that a surface is needed large enough and in good condition so that the drone does not suffer any mishap.
Rotary-wing drones, or better known as multi-rounders, are the most widespread and most widely used types of drones by industry professionals. While it is true that there are other types of rotary-wing drones, we will only look at multi-rounders as the most common drones on the market.
The main difference between multi-circuiters and fixed-wing drones lies in the way they manage to stay in the air. While fixed-wing drones achieve support through their wing profile, multi-rotors generate lift through the forces generated by the propellers of their rotors.
Depending on the number of rotors mounted by the drone there are: tricopters (3 motors), quadcopters (4 motors), hexacopters (6 motors) and octacopters (8 motors).
The main features of multi-twisters is their versatility. In a simple way you can install different types of cameras (RGB cameras, multispectral, thermal imaging…) that allow us to perform a wide range of work. In addition, with this type of drones we will be able to carry out stationary flights which will allow us to carry out certain work that with a fixed-wing drone would be impossible to carry out, such as inspection work.
Multi-twisters are able to take off and land vertically. The start-up of such drones is much faster than with fixed-wing drones as they can take off and land virtually anywhere by not needing a suitable terrain surface for it.
The main drawback of this type of drones is their autonomy. Multi-rotors have a high energy consumption due to the need for all their rotors to be in operation for the aircraft to remain in the air. At best they’re going to offer us about 20 minutes of flight time. Therefore, if large extensions need to be mapped it is inevitable to have several sets of batteries with the cost in time and money that this entails.
As we can see, there are different kinds of drones and both fixed-wing and rotary-wing drones have their advantages and drawbacks. The choice between one type of drone or another will depend on the characteristics of the type of work to be performed