Types of drones (UAVs)

In ForestTECH by FIEA

Although multi-rotors get most of the attention in the drone world, they are not the only option. If you’re serious about aerial mapping then you need to consider a fixed-wing aircraft. Single-rotor helis are also a great solution for some niche applications too.

Here’s a run-down of the four main types of aerial drone platforms, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.


  • Pros:  Accessibility / Ease of use / VTOL and hover flight / Good camera control / Can operate in a confined area
  • Cons:  Short flight times / Small payload capacity
  • Typical Uses:  Aerial Photography and Video Aerial Inspection
  • Price ($AUD):  $5k-$65k for pro drones


  • Pros:  Long endurance / Large area coverage / Fast flight speed
  • Cons:  Launch and recovery needs a lot of space / no VTOL(hover) / Harder to fly, more training needed / Expensive
  • Typical Uses:  Aerial Mapping, Pipeline and Power line inspection
  • Price ($AUD):  $25-$120k for pro drones


  • Pros:  VTOL and hover flight / Long endurance (with gas power) / Heavier payload capability
  • Cons:  More dangerous / Harder to fly, more training needed / Expensive
  • Typical Uses:  Aerial LIDAR laser scanning
  • Price ($AUD):  $25-$120k for pro drones

Fixed-Wing Hybrid

  • Pros:  VTOL and long-endurance flight
  • Cons:  Not perfect at either hovering or forward flight / Still in development
  • Typical Uses:  Drone Delivery
  • Price ($AUD):  TBD, in development

For a complete review of each type of UAV, read Andrew Chapman’s full article on Australian UAV.

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