Home Blog articles KPIs – Performance indicators for choosing the drone (guide)

KPIs – Performance indicators for choosing the drone (guide)

by Fabio Affortunato
KPIs Drones UAVs
Reading time / Tempo lettura : 5 minutes / minuti

Choose the drone for hobby or work

The choice of a drone, be it for leisure (hobby) or for work, cannot and should not be governed only by an economic aspect. If for no other reason not to have to reinvest time and money in the search for a new drone, in the event that the choice made does not meet our needs.

Unfortunately for drones, there is still no “flight test” (assuming this is a valid methodology), so it is essential to have a series of indicators, which can help in choosing the drone suitable for our needs.

The technical reading has not yet been expressed, which is why 4mydrone – the first startup in the world – through a study lasting a few months, carried out on a series of commercial and professional fixed and rotating wing drones, defined the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), to be considered for the evaluation and/or purchase of a drone.

The KPIs

For those who are fasting technical-financial-economic notions, KPIs are indicators chosen ad hoc, which allow to analyze and monitor any project, activity or product.

Of course the KPIs are not all the same and are not always the same. For example, for a commercial activity, the KPIs could be: gross turnover, revenues, new customers acquired and loyal customers, etc.

In the technical field to evaluate the validity of a product, however, it could be: the cost, the performance compared to the consumption-duration, the maintenance costs, and so on.

And for drones? As already mentioned, no one was ever in charge of defining them, but I thought it right to do so given the thirty years of experience in the KPIs field and the importance of these indicators for the evaluation of a drone.

KPIs for drones-UAVs

For drones, therefore, they have been defined by 4mydrone – two basic sets of KPIs -.

A set related to the drone-UAVs intended as a remotely piloted aircraft. The other is related to the on-board equipment (built-in payload).

Drones – UAVs KPIs

The KPIs related to the UAVs are therefore:

  • Flight Time in minutes: time/flight autonomy of the drone-APR with a battery pack,
  • Weight in Kgs: weight of the drone including the built-in payload (e.g. video-camera),
  • Max tangent height in meters A.G.L.: maximum height reached by the drone above sea level,
  • Max horizontal distance that can be reached from the drone in meters: with respect to the pilot’s position,
  • Max video transmission distance in meters: distance for clear and fluid reception of the video captured by the drone camera;
  • Maximum wind resistance in Km/h: maximum sustainable wind speed in drone flight.

The 6 KPIs defined above, therefore allow both to analyze the performance of the drone with respect to both hobby and professional use, but also to compare the performance of different models, for example during the purchase phase of a new drone.

Some parameters such as the maximum tangency altitude, the maximum distance that can be reached by the drone, and the maximum video transmission distance, may seem questionable and unnecessary for a non-expert eye, as we know that the maximum flight height in Italy is normally limited to 120 meters (uncontrolled G space), and that you must always fly in VLOS (on sight).

However these 3 KPIs, assume their importance in terms of APR investment, since the drone could be used for in the future also for carrying out Critical Operations in EVLOS/ BVLOS (see Drones: Acronyms and Terms). High values ​​these parameters are to be considered optimal

The other 3 KPIs: flight time, weight in kg and maximum wind resistance, are the fundamental parameters that influence the use and usability of the drone. The higher the values ​​for flight time and wind resistance, the better the drone performance, especially if the weight of the drone is relatively low.

KPIs Built-in Payload – On-board equipment

The KPIs relating to the built-in payload (more applicable to commercial drones), are instead the following:

  • Camera resolution in MegaPixel;
  • Maximum photographic resolution in pixels (horizontal pixels x vertical pixels);
  • Photo format (JPG, RAW, etc.);
  • Maximum video resolution in pixels (horizontal pixels x vertical pixels);
  • Maximum Bit/rate (e.g. 1.6Gbps@4096×2160 (23.98p);
  • Video formats (MOV / MP4 – H.264 – H.265, etc.).

The KPIs defined above, therefore allow both to analyze the built-in paylaod performance (photo camera), for a leisure and professional drone, and to compare the performance of different built-in payloads of the various models.

The values for these KPIs must be considered in relation to the use-activity of the drone, in a broad temporal perspective. It is obvious that “high values” are an indication of high performance, but the assessment must be made in relation to actual and future actual use.

Mavic Mini Fotocamera KPIs

Data for KPIs camera Mavic Mini – Source DJI store

As for the KPIs of professional paylaods and drones for sports and selfies, since both have totally different characteristic parameters than those defined above, their illustration will be the subject of two next articles.

KPIs table related to drones

The KPIs related to the APR and those related to the built-in payload, can be used for evaluation and comparison of drones.

Their practical use is immediate: just put them in a table and fill in the fields with the data of the various drones under consideration.

The example table, downloadable from this link, allows the evaluation / comparison of 6 different models, but nothing prevents you from expanding it.

KPIs Table Droens UAVs

KPIs Drones-UAVs table – Source 4mydrone

As shown in the figure, a last added indicator is the purchase price, which is an important parameter, but which must be examined in the light of the other KPIs.

How to fill in the table

The way to compile the table is very simple. The free box under the wording Model X is reserved for the name of the drone chosen, while the other white boxes are reserved for the KPIs relating to that model.

The data (KPIs) can be obtained from the drone’s technical data sheet, available on the 4mydrone website under the drone menu, or on the net.

Scheda Tecnica Mavic Mini

Technical specs DJI Mavic Mini for KPIs – Source DJI Store

If some KPIs are not published, leave them blank, and proceed with the compilation of the whole table. Failure to declare certain parameters by a manufacturer could in fact mean that the data is not good compared to other competitors. So take this into account when evaluating.


The KPIs defined for both the APR-drones and the related built-in payloads, are a powerful and simple tool at the same time, which allows to evaluate the performance and intrinsic value of a commercial or professional drone, on the market or immediately release on the market.

Their use, therefore, allows you to choose a machine (drone-APR), based on performance data, albeit on a plate, so that the drone investment is profitable and long-lasting.

Note regarding the images: Some of the images shown in the article are taken from the DJI Store site, which is the legitimate owner. The use of the images is exclusively for the purpose of a better understanding of the contents of the article. The highlighted image was created by 4mydrone on a basic photo taken from the pixabay.com site, free for commercial use, whose author is _freakware. The drone KPIs table was created by 4mydrone – all rights reserved

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Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 15/03/2021

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