Cool Drones

Quadcopters have opened up a range of new uses for remote flying aircraft

Please note: The following article is opinion and should not be considered an endorsement from the university.

UAS Models

Technical developments have taken model aircraft from a niche hobby to a mainstream activity. In particular, quadcopters have opened up a range of new uses for remote flying aircraft. As the number of practical uses for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has increased, so has the market for these devices.

This Lift Web Exclusive examines five popular UAS currently on the market, and is based on actual user experience. Prices may vary based upon vendor and market fluctuations.

Photo of Ryze Tech – Tello Quadcopter

Ryze Tech – Tello Quadcopter

This drone falls into the basic, small UAS category. Often referred to as “toy drones,” I would stop short of calling these toys. These small UAS are fast, compact and affordable. Homemade versions are even faster and often used for racing. The Tello is a kid-friendly, high value sUAS, with an average flight time of 13 minutes.

Retail: $99

Photo of Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon

Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon

One of the big selling points for this drone is that all of the necessary control systems are included in the sales price — control, camera screen, and more. And, it includes a 4K camera. Users say it is easy to fly and good for beginners. The aircraft does not have auto-flight capacity but is otherwise professional-grade, with an average flight time of 20 minutes.

Retail: $530

Photo of DJI Mavic -Series

DJI Mavic -Series

Looking for a compact yet professional-grade UAS, look no further. The DJI Mavic offers a high-end unit with multiple options, including speakers, strobe lights, and thermal imaging. These features make the Mavic a common choice for law enforcement and emergency responders. Several control systems are available, with top-of-the-line options available. The Mavic’s 15- to 20-minute flight time allows for use at relatively far distances.

Retail: $1,500-$2,200

Photo of DJI Phantom 4 Pro

DJI Phantom 4 Pro

In the middle of the price spectrum is the Phantom 4 Pro. It includes a high-resolution 4K camera, infrared sensing systems and obstacle avoidance capabilities. The unit relies on the DJI control system, which is standardized across the DJI fleet. The Phantom also includes auto-flight capabilities and a 15-minute average flight time, making it an excellent choice for professional photography. The Phantom is also user-friendly, which makes it ideal for beginners.

Retail: $1,600

Photo of DJI – Inspire 2 Drone

DJI – Inspire 2 Drone

A top-of-the-line UAS, the Inspire 2 includes a full-control system. A payload camera is not included; however, smaller cameras are built-in, along with a video processing system. The unit can carry additional high-resolution cameras, be equipped with spotlights, or carry other small objects. The Inspire 2 includes an internal heating mechanism to permit operations in cold weather.

Retail: $3,300


Model Name Retail Price Payload User Friendliness Compatibility
Ryze Tech – Tello Quadcopter $99 None Fair (Some Skill Required) N/A
Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon $530 4K Camera No Auto-flight but easy to fly N/A
DJI Mavic – Series $1,500-2,200 Multiple Options (Not included) Easy to operate, includes auto-flight DJI Standard
DJI Phantom 4 Pro $1,600 4K Camera Easy to operate, includes auto-flight DJI Standard
DJI – Inspire 2 Drone – Gray/Black $3,300 Camera Capable (Camera not included) Easy to operate, includes auto-flight DJI Standard