Drones and technical specifications
In the purchase phase of the drone it is fundamental to know how to fully understand the technical characteristics of the drone being evaluated. But what are the technical specifications of the drone, which indicators are important, how are they interpreted and above all where to acquire them? This guide aims to answer these three questions and provide a methodology for choosing the drone.
Drone – The technical specs
The technical specification of a drone, is nothing more than a document that through technical data describes for the drone its specific functionality, its specific use or its performance levels.
We could therefore summarize the previous concept by saying that the technical specification of a drone is a set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), able to describe the performance capabilities of a drone.
The technical specification, or the set of those significant technical data, plays a fundamental role in the choice of a drone and especially in the comparison of different drone models. However, acquiring the technical specifications accompanied by the right indicators is not always easy for two reasons:
- because some manufacturers hide some fundamental parameters probably because they are not optimal compared to the competition;
- because not all manufacturers report the same specifications. For example, producer X can report the maximum tangency quota for his drone, but producer Y can omit this information in the technical data sheet.
Be prepared for this! However, the 4mydrone website reports for almost all drones the technical data sheets complete with all the information that makes it possible to compare the different professional drone models.
Drone technical specifications – The basic indicators
In the technical specifications of the drones, there is various information. Among these, for a good analysis of the drone, it is important to know the basic indicators, which are:
- Flight time: indicates the maximum flight time with a single battery pack and is shown in minutes;
- Maximum tangent height: the maximum height that can be reached by the drone indicated in meters above ground level;
- Maximum horizontal distance that can be reached: the maximum horizontal distance that the drone can reach indicated in km with respect to the pilot’s position;
- Maximum video transmission distance: distance for clear and fluid reception of the video captured by the drone camera, expressed in Km or meters;
- Max wind resistance: that is the maximum value in m / s of wind (constant or gust) sustainable by the drone in flight;
- Max transportable payload (weight): the maximum transportable weight indicated in grams or in Kg;
- Sensors: on-board sensors available.
Although the maximum tangent altitude and maximum horizontal distance achievable indicators may seem irrelevant, as the regulation sets the maximum flight altitude at 120 meters and the flight strictly in VLOS (i.e. sight flight – See Drones – Acronyms & Terms), it is actually good to know them for the following reasons:
- the drone, if not immediately, but in the future it could be used for work in EVLOS-BVLOS areas (see Drones – Acronyms & Terms),
- some drones do not exceed, as a tangency altitude 80-100 meters, and if you have to fly within the 120 meters limit due to obstacles, it is good to know the maximum tangency altitude.
As for the payload, not all drones allow a configurable paylaod, but many drones have a “standard” payload (video camera). However, it is good to know – if available – the paylaod that the drone can transport so that it does not affect the drone’s MOD (Operational Take-off Mass).
The importance of basic indicators
The values of the basic indicators of the drone technical specifications indicated by the manufacturer are very important, as they allow you to identify if that type of drone is suitable for the use we want to do with it.
More generally, the indicators such as: flight range, maximum video transmission distance, maximum wind resistance and on-board sensors, are the fundamental parameters that influence the use and usability of the drone.
For example, if the drone we want to choose is a drone for leisure, whose main use is for photos and videos, it is important that the drone has both good flight autonomy and good wind resistance. Likewise, on-board sensors against obstacles are now an important standard for drones of all sizes.
As well as for a professional drone destined to carry out aerial photogrammetry it is important that the drone has a high flight autonomy, which reaches a suitable tangency altitude for the survey, has good wind resistance and can mount a payload (camera) of adequate weight for aerial photogrammetry.
Needless to point out that the presence of positioning systems on the drone such as GPS, Glonass, Galileo, RTK, etc., are to be considered fundamental for a professional drone and are part of the basic specifications.
The complementary indicators
Besides the basic indicators, in the technical specifications of the drones, there are other indicators that must also be carefully evaluated. These complementary indicators, i.e. those relating to speeds, are of significant importance if the technical specifications of a professional drone are being examined. The complementary speed indicators are:
- maximum speed: that is the maximum horizontal speed of the drone expressed in m / s or Km / h;
- ascent speed: (valid for drones with rotor): that is the maximum vertical speed expressed in m / s;
- descent speed: (valid for drones with rotor): that is the maximum descent speed of the drone in m / s.
These specifications identify performance capabilities which in some fields of application for the use of the drone, such as precision agriculture or confined inspections, can play a strategic role.
As it is easy to understand the payload is the real “core” of the drone. The payload, be it an amateur or a professional video camera for filming, is in fact entrusted with the task for which the drone took shape.
So, in the technical specifications of the drones, next to the basic and complementary indicators, there are also the specifications of the payload with its characteristic indicators.
Leaving aside professional paylaods, whose technical specifications depend on the purpose of the paylaod, for most drones equipped with cameras the indicators to be considered are at least the following:
- Sensor resolution in MP (MegaPixel);
- Photo size expressed as X: Y or MP x MP;
- Photo format (JPEG, RAW, etc.);
- Video resolution such as HD, Full HD, 4K, 2.7K etc .;
- Video format (MP4, MOV, etc.).
For more information on how to read the technical specifications of professional payloads, we recommend reading the article “Professional Payloads – Reading the specifications” of the 4mydrone Blog.
Where to get the technical specifications of drones
The technical specifications of the drones are made available by the manufacturers of the drones themselves. Normally on the website of each manufacturer, for each drone model, there is a page identified as “Data sheet” or “Specs” or “Specification“, where all the technical specifications of that particular model are listed.
As already mentioned, unfortunately, not all manufacturers show the same indicators. Sometimes some of the basic indicators are incomplete or even absent.
If some indicators are missing, the alternative is to search the net (but this work has already been done for the drones reviewed by 4mydrone), or write to the manufacturer and ask for indicators or specifications of your interest.
Note regarding the images: The Drone relative to the highlighted image is taken from pixabay.com, they are free for commercial use, without attribution request. The author is maja7777. The extract of the technical specifications is taken from the DJI store website and the data refer to the Mavic Mini drone. However, each image mentions the author who is its legitimate owner. The use of images has the exclusive purpose of a better understanding of the contents of the article.
Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 15/03/2021