When you’re trying to choose the right drone for your survey area and budget, picking a craft can be overwhelming. The team here at Propeller has flown many different drones for many jobs. When it comes to drone type, price, camera capabilities, availability, and ease of maintenance, we’ve found DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro to be the best for most site surveys.
With the exception of some edge cases—like extremely large survey areas of more than 200 hectares (500 acres)—multicopters, like the Phantom 4 Pro, get the job done right at a lower price point. DJI drones are widely available and mass produced. This means they have an ease of maintenance that custom or fixed-wing drones lack.
It has all the features you need
Whether you’re surveying or performing inspections, the Phantom 4 Pro is a perfect fit thanks to its 360-degree collision avoidance system, increased camera pixel count, and sensor size.
Its flight time is a whopping 28–30 minutes, which is a big increase over other drones this size and price. It has a remote control compatible with an iPad; five sensors for sophisticated obstacle avoidance; and overall the most advanced set of features in its class.
While it doesn’t have an interchangeable camera or lens, the camera it comes with has a 20MP resolution, a one-inch sensor, and mechanical shutter, all of which help get clear shots. It’s also under 2kg, which means than it easily fits the criteria for most commercial licensing and flight regulations around the world.
It’s part of a reliable, tested network
DJI, the Phantom drone manufacturer, is the largest drone manufacturer in the world. They have teams and teams of people working on research and development, ensuring their drones are always improving. Further, with such a robust network, you can be sure to have the support you need to get flying again on the off chance something should break.
Overall, when picking a UAV it’s best practice to stick with simple drone options that are available at local stores. As with any other worksite tool, it’s best to avoid providers who cannot guarantee quick repairs or replacements. You don’t want to postpone your surveys because you’re waiting on a replacement drone or part.
It has the practical value of availability
A great example of the value of availability comes from what would usually be a dreaded event: crashing your drone. Recently, one of our partners was flying a site and crashed his drone due to high winds and operator failure. But because he was flying a DJI Phantom 4 Pro—a widely stocked craft—he was able to purchase a replacement at a local store and start flying again two hours later.
We recommend the Phantom 4 Pro because it ticks all the boxes—ease-of-use, ease-of-maintenance, reliability, and economic cost. It stands head and shoulders above other options on the market.
[2019 Update] Where is the Phantom 4 Pro now?
They’ve been busy over at DJI since we first released this article last year. The Phantom 4 Pro is now on it’s second version, and it’s no longer considered the best in class. A new generation of drone technology has emerged—the Phantom 4 RTK—and it’s revolutionizing aerial mapping all over the world.
Real-time kinematic (RTK) technology corrects images as they’re captured, pinging GPS satellites to accurately assign coordinates to the collected data in real-time. Not only has the Phantom 4 RTK completely changed the hardware game, but it also inspired a new processing workflow called post processed kinematics (PPK).
For more information about RTK and PPK, give this article a try.
When DJI introduced the Phantom 4 RTK, we were able to merge hardware and processing software in a fully integrated Propeller PPK solution. Gone are the days of compatibility issues and processing mishaps. Drone surveying has entered a new era—unparalleled accuracy, increased reliability, and faster turnaround.
Have questions about how Propeller PPK brings value to your worksite? Contact us today!