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The growing popularity of drones over the past few years only meant that not only popularity will grow, but the purpose and usage of drones as well. But, what does this actually mean? Drones found their way to multiple industries and purposes, and one of those is construction flows for the built world.
Some of you must be wondering, how do using drones actually help us with construction – it’s simple, areal technology offers a great advantage when it comes to completing construction projects on time and under budget.
In this article, we will take a close look at some of the best drones for construction. Please keep in mind that the analysis is based only on our investigation of these drones. Whether you want to use some of them or not, to help you with construction flows, is the decision only up to you.
Best drones for construction 2022
When we started analyzing the best drones for construction, we realized that it would be more compact to divide the drones into three categories – drones for mapping and surveying, drones for construction photography and videography, and drones for construction inspection.
So, we will show a few drones in each section and hopefully make your decision on which drones to use for construction easier. DJI is one of the most powerful companies in the drone industry so there are quite a few drones on the list that are DJI-based. Without further ado, let’s jump into details.
Best for mapping and surveying
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2 is the first drone we will explain in this article since it is considered one of the best drones in the world for mapping and surveying. It offers upgrade features to the “regular” Phantom 4 since it offers an uprated camera that is well equipped with a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor. This sensor can shoot 4k/60fps video.
The drone is constructed of titanium alloy and magnesium alloy that increase the rigidity of the airframe and reduce weight which makes Phantom 4 Pro very similar weight to Phantom 4. DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2 offers a 4.3mi (7km) range control and it can fly for 30 minutes.
Freefly Astro Drone
The Astro is one of the most recent drones created by the Freely systems. It was created in 2021 so it is still a new drone at the time of writing this article. Freely has over 100,000+ successful commercial drone flights behind them, so we can consider them a very reliable team.
Freely is known for creating drones with the most expensive sensors in the world that are tested accordingly. For instance, when it comes to Astro, there were over 75 tests completed and 185+ hours of flight done during the development.
Astro is a very well-equipped drone with a multi-band RTK system with high-level precision. Using the latest GNSS module from u-blox (F9P) Astro’s RTK will give you rock-solid height and position hold. The batteries of this drone come in two sizes and feature the latest 2170 round cell lithium on batteries.
DJI Phantom 4 RTK
Yet another DJI-based drone on our list of best drones for construction is Phantom 4 RTK. The main purpose of the drone is to allow its users efficient surveying and map the market in one easy-to-use solution. DJI Phantom 4 RTK features a high-quality camera that can record extremely accurate RTK data.
The drone has a new TimeSync system that has the goal to control a flight, camera, and RTK module. Furthermore, TimeSync allows each taken photo to offer highly accurate metadata and fixes the position data to the center of the CMOS sensor. This optimizes the results you can get from the image by offering centimeter-level positioning data. The camera of DJI Phantom 4 RTK has a camera with a 1-inch, 20-megapixel CMOS sensor.
DJI Matrice 300 RTK
DJI Matrice 300 RTK is the next drone that deserves the best drones for construction. This particular model offers 55-minutes of high-level flight time and the reason for this longer flight option is because of the TB60 Batteries which are combined with unrivaled reliability.
This drone offers various features such as a 6 Directional Sensing and Positioning system, an extremely efficient flight control system, location sharing, PinPoint, and Smart Track. Furthermore, the new primary flight display makes DJI Matrice 300 RTK one of the most powerful drones in the world right now.
Best for construction photography and videography
DJI Mavic 3
DJI Mavic 3 is the next drone we will show in this article. This is a powerful drone that is equipped with a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera. The camera helps the drone to produce extremely professional images. DJI Mavic 3 was released in November of 2021, so at the time of writing, it was still a new drone.
When it comes to specifics of the drone, Mavic 3 can fly for 46 minutes or a distance of 18.6 miles, thanks to a new battery with a capacity of 5000 mAh. The weight of the drone is 895 grams which means you need to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to fly in the U.S (since it weighs over 249 grams).
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
DJI Mavic 2 Pro was mainly made for enthusiasts so it is suitable for professional images and photography. It features a 20MP, 1-Inch sensor that is capable of high-quality 4k videos and raw stills you can get from a consumer drone. What I liked about DJI Mavic 2 Pro is that it is suitable both for beginners and experienced drone users.
This is the first drone that is equipped with a Hasselblad camera which is the result of the partnership between DJI and Hasselblad. Collaboration with Hasselblad has brought innovative experiences to the field with advancements in drone photography. The camera improved the standard of image quality which was the goal when collaboration with Hasselblad was made.
Autel EVO 2
Autel EVO 2 is the next drone we will show in this article. The main difference Autel EVO 2 makes when compared to other drones is the fact that it can be used without an extra device. What does this actually mean you wonder? Well, most of today’s drones need to connect with a smartphone app in order to see through the camera and snap photos. On the other hand, Autel EVO 2 puts a color display into the controller itself which means that you can fly, frame photos, and record videos without connecting the drone to a smartphone app.
Controlling the drone without the smartphone is mostly what you will pay for if you decide to buy Autel EVO 2. And that’s perfectly fine, but keep in mind that some camera features still require a smartphone app. The drone’s main color is orange, so it is easier to spot in the air compared to some other drones. Furthermore, keep in mind that you will have to register with the FAA if you want to use Autel EVO 2 in the US.
The main advantages of the drone are a 6K video and 20MP Raw imaging camera and a Big battery for 30-plus-minute flights. On the other hand, I would say that the main disadvantages of Autel EVO 2 are the fact that many functions still require a smartphone and the fact that there is no iPhone cable included in the package.
DJI Inspire 2
Yet another exciting drone for construction on our list today is DJI Inspire 2. This is an upgraded version of DJI Inspire 1 that is most suitable not only for construction builders, but also for pro filmmakers, deep-pocketed enthusiasts, and local news stations. When compared to its predecessor the DJI Inspire 2 has better speed, a significantly improved camera, and an obstacle avoidance system.
DJI Inspire 2 is a big and expensive drone, so my advice is that you avoid it if you are a complete beginner in the drone industry. The dimensions of the drone change based on the position of its landing gear. When you set to take it off, keep in mind that there are 1.2 feet between each motor. There is a travel mode that lets you slow down Inspire 2 but this widens its footprint while at the same time reducing its height. It wights more than 7 pounds, so you have to register with the FAA before the outdoor flights.
Yuneec Mantis Q
Yuneec Mantis Q is an interesting drone and is considered compact. The main features and advantages of the drone include a 25-minute flying time (thanks to a battery), folding and compact design, GPS support, and a multi-battery charger. Mantis Q is one of the smallest drones in the industry since it measures 2.3 by 3.8 by 6.6 inches (HWD) when folded for storage, while it measures 2.3 by 7.4 by 9.8 inches when the arms are opened and the drone is ready to fly.
Even though it’s a light drone as well, it still requires FAA registration, even for noncommercial use. The thing I did not like about Yuneec Mantis Q is the fact that the 4k video camera is pretty unstable and shaky. The lens shows some barrel distortion, which is pretty noticeable if your horizon is not positioned near the center of the frame height, and the detail from the small lens and sensor is not great, even though Mantis Q has a decent 50Mbps recording rate.
So, make your own decision if you want to use Yuneec Mantis Q or not. Even though it does deserve to be on the list of the best drones for construction, I do think you can find better drones for a similar price (like DJI Mavic Air for instance).
Best drones for construction inspection
MAVIC 2 ENTERPRISE (ZOOM)
And the last (but not least) drone on our list is Mavic 2 Enterprise. The drone came with a few upgrades when compared to its predecessors with the main one being a high-quality camera and a few other upgrades which makes this drone suitable for both beginners and experienced drone users as well.
Due to a high-quality camera, Mavic 2 Enterprise can be used for aerial photos and images. For example, most users use it for real estate marketing, agricultural imagery, surveillance, mapping, construction, and photography.
Mavic 2 is a part of the “Enterprise” collection made by DJI which includes Phantom 4 RTK, the Matrice 200 Series, the Phantom 4 Pro, and the Matrice 600 as well.
As mentioned above, the drone offers high-quality cameras – the Pro with a 1” Hasselblad camera and the Zoom with a 4X zoom camera. The zoom part is probably the most innovative thing about Matic 2 Enterprise since it offers a 2X optical zoom and 3X digital zoom. Besides construction, Matic 2 Enterprise is highly useful during search and rescue missions since it can zoom through dangerous areas without moving too close. With Matic 2 Enterprise, you can fly for about 31 minutes.
Finally, the thing I highly liked about Matic 2 Enterprise is that it’s extremely easy to use. If you are used to flying DJI drones, Matic 2 Enterprise will be a piece of cake for you. On the other hand, if you are a complete beginner in the drones world, don’t worry since I don’t believe you will have any issue operating the drone.
MATRICE 300 RTK PAIRED WITH H20 ZOOM CAMERA
Matrice 300 RTK is another drone on our list that was produced by DJI. It is an upgraded drone when compared to Matrice 200 RTK. However, Matrice 300 RTK has some similarities with its predecessor, for example, both drones are water-resistant. However, do not be confused with the “water-resistant” term since this does not mean that the drone is waterproof. It means that the drone can fly in light rain, but the cameras are not waterproof.
Another impression about Matrice 300 RTK I got is that it’s pretty well constructed and built for tough conditions. The dimensions of the drone are 810×670×430 mm (unfolded, propellers excluded) and 430×420×430 mm (folded, propellers included).
Furthermore, Matrice 300 RTK props are bigger and mounted under the booms while Matrice 200 RTK props are smaller and mounted above. The biggest innovation of Matrice 300 RTK is its camera – the H20 Series Zoom camera which is DJI’s first hybrid sensor solution. H20 offers a four-in-one camera solution: Radiometric Thermal Camera, Hybrid 23x Optical Zoom Camera, RGB Wide Camera, and Laser RangeFinder. H20 Zoom camera produces high-quality images.
MATRICE 210 V2 PAIRED WITH Z30 ZOOM CAMERA
Matrice 210 V2 is a part of the DJI Matrice 200 V2 series that includes 3 models – M200 V2, M210 V2, and M210 RTK V2. All these drones are upgrades when compared to DJI Matrice 200 series.
The biggest difference is that the V2 models removed Lightbridge and replaced it with OcuSync 2.0. This is a very important feature since it provides 256-bit encryption that provides you with better data security. Furthermore, OcuSync 2 will offer you a stronger signal and a longer range between the drone and your remote.
The main purpose of Matrice 210 V2 is to help you with surveying, mapping, energy, construction, engineering, and public safety in general. The drone has a FlightAutonomy system built-in which helps it to easily avoid obstacles and fly with confidence. Another good thing about all V2 drones is that they are visible at night due to bottom anti-collision beacons.
How Can Drones Benefit Construction and Inspection?
Believe it or not, drones are doing everything they can to revolutionize the construction and inspection industry. Actually, when I looked into other industries, I realized that the construction industry was hit by drones the most, positively of course.
Nowadays, drones are often used in various parts of construction such as mapping, surveying of capturing images for cut and fill jobs. Construction inspections are another area where drones have a huge impact. The drones are used to check for roof damage, detect pipelines leaks, inspect wind turbines, and inspect roads and highways. This all happened due to new technologies and new high-quality drones that can be used in various fields of construction.
Construction inspection is mandatory by laws so it needs to be done one way or another. However, there are some construction inspections such as inspecting high-rise buildings or cable lines on railway tracks or powerlines on electricity grids. Also, some inspections that are expensive and require a lot of manpower can be overwhelming as well. In these, I can safely say dangerous and tricky, situations drones come to the rescue.
Let’s look at some frequently asked questions when it comes to drones for construction.
We listed a few drones in this article that we believe are the best for construction in 2022. The one that stands out is probably DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro was mainly made for enthusiasts so it is suitable for professional images, photography, and construction. It features a 20MP, 1-Inch sensor that is capable of high-quality 4k videos and raw stills you can get from a consumer drone. What I liked about DJI Mavic 2 Pro is that it is suitable both for beginners and experienced drone users, so don’t be afraid to use it even though you are a complete amateur in the drones world.
There is various quality software that constructors use along with drone data and these include DroneDeploy 3D Mapping Solutions, Pix4D Mapper Photogrammetry Software, SimActive, Propeller, Maps Made Easy, and AutoDesk ReCap Photogrammetry Software.
The two most common reasons why constructors decide to use drones in their work are for surveying and inspection purposes. Drones are equipped with downward-facing sensors, such as RGB, multispectral, thermal, or LIDAR, and they can capture a great deal of aerial data in a short time.
The price of construction drones depends on the type of drone of course. If you want to use a drone in construction, you will have to purchase the one with the camera. The cheapest camera drones cost from $300 to $500, but they can be over $1000 due to some advanced and additional features.
Yes, of course, they do. Architects can use drones to take images from specific angles. The areal look helps the architect and a client to visualize how a product will look when finished. It helps architects to make efficient plans.
The aerial photography that drones provide makes it possible for an architect and a client to visualize how a finished product will look. Aerial footage allows an architect to design accurate plans. Drones can be very effective, and they can complete mapping projects in a fraction of the time a project would typically take.
The best drones for construction photography are DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, Autel EVO 2, DJI Inspire 2, and Yuneec Mantis Q.
There’s very little difference between these drones, but if I have to pick one, that would most likely be DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
The best drones for construction inspection are Matrice 300 RTK (paired with H20 Zoom Camera), Mavic 2 Enterprise, and Matrice 210 V2 (paired with Z30 Zoom Camera).
The thing that is the same for all these drones is a high-quality camera that has a Zoom feature. This is very important for inspections since it usually requires extremely detailed area images. When it comes to construction inspections, the drones are used to check for roof damage, detect pipelines leaks, inspect wind turbines, and inspect roads and highways.