Are you ready to take your drone adventures to new heights, quite literally? Long-range drones are your passport to explore the world from a bird’s-eye view.
But before you launch your dreams into the endless skies, let’s break down the best long range drones that can make your aerial fantasies come true!
Let’s make it crystal clear: we’re in the business of comparing long range drones for serious commercial applications, not your run-of-the-mill hobbyist’s delight or the adrenaline-pumping FPV fixed wing machines.
When we talk about long range drones, we’re talking about the ones designed to handle serious tasks. These drones mean business, and they’re here to take care of business.
Whether it’s mapping extensive landscapes or ensuring the highest quality image capture while covering vast areas, these are the drones you can count on to get the job done, efficiently and effectively.
So, buckle up for a journey into the world of drones that mean business!
First things first, when it comes to long-range drones, they can be neatly divided into two main categories: Fixed-wing Drones and Multicopter Drones.
It’s like choosing between a sleek sports car and a reliable SUV – each has its own unique perks.
A long-range drone, in the thrilling world of unmanned aerial vehicles, is a real-life modern superhero. These remarkable flying machines are designed to take on missions that require them to go the extra mile, quite literally.
Generally, long range drones boast the capability to gracefully glide through the skies over distances ranging from 5 to 15 kilometers, making them the go-to choice for a diverse range of applications.
Picture a content creator yearning for extended flight times to capture that perfect cinematic shot without the hassle of frequent battery swaps.
Envision railway managers who need to inspect vast stretches of tracks, or pipeline safety inspectors ensuring the integrity of gas pipelines that span miles.
In such scenarios, long range drones become the beacon of hope, offering prolonged flight and the ability to cover extensive areas efficiently.
Among these flying marvels, fixed-wing drones take the lead, effortlessly soaring over longer distances compared to their multirotor or quadcopter counterparts, making them an indispensable tool for professionals seeking to conquer the vast expanse of the sky.
Conversely, quadcopters or multirotors can fly long distances but are inherently limited compared to the flight characteristics of a fixed wing drone.
Fixed wing drones are the marathon runners of the drone world. They offer extended flight time, ensuring that you can capture breathtaking views without your drone tapping out too soon. However, they might not win any prizes for payload flexibility.
But hey, it’s all about choices, right?
While quadcopters and multirotor drones can certainly cover substantial distances, they do face some limitations compared to their fixed wing counterparts. These nimble and versatile aerial machines rely on their rotor-based propulsion, which, while efficient for a variety of tasks, comes with a trade-off in terms of extended range.
However, that’s not to say that they can’t stretch their wings—pun intended! The best quadcopters geared for long-range flights possess some remarkable features. High thrust-to-weight ratios ensure they can handle the rigors of distance with ease.
Many opt for the dual-battery setup to keep them aloft longer, and their secret weapon is the cutting-edge Occusync 3, an exceptional long-range video transmission system that keeps the pilot well-connected to the drone, no matter how far it roams in the skies.
So, while fixed wing drones may boast a clear edge in the range department, these quadcopters are no slouches and are equipped to go the extra mile.
For the multicopter enthusiasts, DJI takes the crown with the M30t, followed by the Mavic 3 Pro and the Mavic Air 3. With their impeccable flying abilities, these drones are your golden ticket to capturing stunning vistas from above.
Now, let’s dive into what you should consider when picking the best long-range drone. Picture this: you’re on an epic flight, and your drone’s video feed suddenly goes kaput. Not cool, right? So, keep an eye on factors like video transmission distance and live feed quality. You don’t want to miss a single frame of your adventure.
Battery power is another crucial factor. After all, the last thing you want is your drone deciding it’s time to descend just when the view gets epic. And, if you’re the type who can’t bear to be offline even when soaring through the clouds, check if your drone can operate on LTE or cellular networks.
As mentioned earlier, we will categorize long-range drones into two distinct groups:
A) Fixed Wing Drones Category
B) Multirotor Drones Category
However, here is the list of all 10 long range drones:
Let’s first cover the fixed wing long range drones.
These fixed wing long range drones offer remarkable capabilities for extended flights and are well-suited for various mapping, surveying, and aerial tasks:
Our first highlight in the world of aerial technology is the Wingtra One Gen II, which has received approval from the NDAA.
For those engaged in the field of cartography, this drone is an absolute game-changer. It comes equipped with a full-frame camera and features the cutting-edge Wingtra Hub software.
You might be wondering, what’s the big deal here?
Well, this software empowers drone operators to meticulously geo-tag their photographs with exceptional precision through the utilization of PPK (Post-Processed Kinematic) positioning.
Combined with Pix4D React software, this aerial marvel transforms into the Usain Bolt of drones. The outcome? Swift generation of geo-referenced orthomosaics, making the mapping process smoother than ever before.
But there’s even more to this remarkable drone. It comes with a variety of payload options to meet your specific cartographic requirements, ranging from multispectral sensors to the latest addition, the lidar system.
However, we recommend avoiding the oblique camera – it’s akin to putting a fancy hat on a tuxedo-clad penguin.
Now, let’s delve into the technical specifications.
|Feature||Wingtra One Gen II|
|Weight||3.7 kg (8.1 lb)|
|Max. payload weight||800 g (1.8 lb)|
|Wingspan||125 cm (4.1 ft)|
|Battery capacity||Two 99 Wh batteries|
|Radio link||Bi-directional 10 km (6 mi) in direct line of sight|
|Flight planning & mission control software||WingtraPilot|
|Flight speed||16 m/s (35.8 mph)|
|Maximum flight time||Up to 59 min|
|Min. space for take-off and landing||2 m × 2 m (6.6 ft × 6.6 ft)|
|Temperature range||-10 to +40 °C (14 to 104 °F)|
|Weather resistance||IP54, not recommended to fly in fog, rain, and snow.|
|Transmission Distance||10 Kilometers|
Source: Quantum Systems
If we were to liken this drone to an athlete, it would be enjoying its victory smoothie while others are still lacing up their shoes. It’s the drone equivalent of the ever-energetic Energizer Bunny.
However, the F90+ doesn’t just excel in endurance; it also offers an impressive 15-kilometer range, perfect for those who prefer expansive horizons.
When it comes to covering vast areas, the Trinity F90+ outperforms traditional multicopters and other fixed-wing drones. Its significantly extended flight time allows it to map areas up to 20 times larger, making it the preferred choice for those tasked with surveying extensive landscapes.
Boasting a flight time exceeding 90 minutes and an extensive range of payload options, the Trinity F90+ stands out among its peers. It comes equipped with PPK (Post-Processed Kinematic) technology, supported by the Quantum-System iBase Ground Reference Station powered by u-blox, ensuring precision in every mission.
But that’s not all – this drone offers both RGB and multispectral dual payload options, ensuring adaptability to various surveying and mapping requirements.
The Trinity F90+ is equipped with powerful motors, ensuring top-tier performance in all conditions, allowing you to conquer even the most challenging scenarios with ease.
With features like Live Air Traffic (ADS-B) and QBase Mission Planning, you have complete control over your flights, ensuring both safety and efficiency. Its 2.4 GHz telemetry extends up to 7.5 kilometers, ensuring a constant connection with your drone. Additionally, the optional ADS-B Mode-S out enhances situational awareness and safety.
For those engaged in mapping and surveying expansive landscapes, the Trinity F90+ is your secret weapon. Its exceptional flight time and robust capabilities make it the preferred choice for discerning commercial clients who demand precision, endurance, and reliability.
Whether you’re mapping extensive farmlands or miles of terrain, the Trinity F90+ is your trusted companion in the skies.
|Weight||5.5 kg (12.13 lbs)|
|Max. payload weight||700 g (1.5 lb)|
|Wingspan||2.394 m (7.85 ft)|
|Battery capacity||Two 100 Wh batteries|
|Flight planning & mission control software||QBase 3D|
|Flight speed||17 m/s|
|Wind resistance||Max sustained wind: 12 m/s Max wind gusts: 18 m/s|
|Maximum flight time||90 min (subject to export regulation)|
|Min. space for take-off and landing||3 m × 3 m (9.8 ft × 9.8 ft)|
|Temperature range||-12 °C to 50 °C (10.4 °F to 122 °F)|
Before the Wingtra took center stage, the eBee X held the title of mapping world’s favorite. It remains a formidable contender, showcasing an impressive 90-minute flight duration that rivals its younger counterparts.
The Sensefly eBee X, which has received NDAA approval, is undeniably one of the most sought-after fixed-wing drones on the market. It has firmly established itself as a workhorse for agricultural mapping.
However, here’s the catch – it’s not exactly the belle of the ball when it comes to takeoff and landing. The eBee X can be a bit cumbersome, demanding skilled piloting and ample landing space.
Nonetheless, its popularity speaks volumes.
Featuring a selection of six different payloads, this drone simplifies agricultural mapping tasks. The SenseFly eBee X is well-prepared to meet the precise requirements of any project. Its remarkable Endurance Extension pushes the boundaries, offering an astonishing maximum flight time of 90 minutes, enabling coverage of extensive areas of up to 1,235 acres at an altitude of 400 feet AGL.
With a range of 10 kilometers, the eBee X is akin to a seasoned road-tripper who knows all the shortcuts in the drone world.
Furthermore, the additional RTK activation ensures pinpoint accuracy down to 3 centimeters (1.2 inches), all without the need for Ground Control Points.
While it may not win any elegance contests in the air, it unquestionably delivers on precision and reliability.
|Feature||SenseFly eBee X|
|Weight||2.3 kg (5.07 lb)|
|Max. payload weight||1.4 kg (3.09 lb)|
|Wingspan||1.68 m (5.51 ft)|
|Battery capacity||Two 80 Wh batteries|
|Flight planning & mission control software||eMotion 3|
|Tablet supplied||Rugged Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3|
|Flight speed||18 m/s (37.8 mph)|
|Maximum flight time||Up to 90 min|
|Min. space for take-off and landing||10 m × 10 m (33 ft × 33 ft)|
|Temperature range||-10 °C to +40 °C (14 °F to 104 °F)|
Source: Drone Nerd
Now, let’s shift our focus to the Autel Dragonfish Pro, an undisputed champion among fixed-wing drones.
This drone has the potential to redefine our concept of “flight time.” With an astonishing 158 minutes in the air, it’s like having an indefatigable drone butler at your service.
It’s not just about the extended flight time, though; the Dragonfish Pro also boasts an impressive 15-kilometer range, ensuring you can effortlessly cover vast areas.
However, what truly distinguishes the Dragonfish Pro is its exceptional vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) performance. While other drones, such as the Wingtra, are limited to autonomous missions, the Dragonfish Pro offers the flexibility of manual flight, much like a traditional drone. This outstanding capability sets it head and shoulders above the competition.
The Dragonfish’s innovative tilt-rotor design simplifies operation while optimizing performance and efficiency. With no intricate moving components to fret over, this drone is modular, waterproof, intelligent, and exceptionally reliable.
Straight out of the box, it’s mission-ready and equipped with potent AI tracking capabilities, in addition to a diverse selection of modular payload options, enabling seamless adaptation to various tasks.
With an impressive endurance of up to 158 minutes, inclusive of the payload, the Dragonfish Pro establishes a new benchmark for mission capabilities, firmly securing its position as the leader in the realm of fixed-wing drones.
|Feature||Autel Dragonfish Pro|
|Weight||8.5 kg (18.7 lbs)|
|Max. payload weight||1.8 kg (4 lbs)|
|Wingspan||1.6 m (5.25 ft)|
|Battery capacity||Four 174 Wh batteries|
|Radio link||Bi-directional 30 km (18.6 mi) in direct line of sight|
|Flight planning & mission control software||Autel Voyager|
|Flight speed||108 km/h (67 mph)|
|Maximum flight time||180 min|
|Min. space for take-off and landing||3 m × 3 m (9.8 ft × 9.8 ft)|
|Temperature range||-20 to +50 °C (-4 to +122 °F)|
To provide you with a concise overview, here’s a list of MultiRotor Long Range Drones:
The DJI Matrice 350 is a formidable contender among the best long-range drones, known for its exceptional capabilities and versatility. With a remarkable 55-minute flight time and an impressive 20 km range for video transmission, this drone is a powerful tool for various professional applications.
One of the key strengths of the DJI Matrice 350 lies in its adaptability. It supports a wide range of payloads, making it suitable for diverse tasks.
Among its payload options is the H20T triple camera, which offers a combination of thermal, zoom, and wide-angle lenses, making it ideal for tasks that require detailed visual and thermal imaging, such as search and rescue missions or environmental monitoring.
For nighttime operations, the DJI Matrice 350 can be equipped with the H20N, which is optimized for low-light conditions and provides superior night vision capabilities. This makes it invaluable for applications like surveillance or nocturnal wildlife monitoring.
The drone also supports a robust LiDAR sensor with the L2, which is essential for tasks like 3D mapping, terrain modeling, and infrastructure inspection. The precision and accuracy of LiDAR data are vital in these scenarios.
For photogrammetry tasks, the DJI Matrice 350 features the P1 camera, which excels in capturing high-resolution images to create detailed, accurate 3D models and maps. However, it’s important to note that this option may have limitations when compared to the flexibility of the H20T and H20N cameras.
In addition to its impressive camera capabilities, the DJI Matrice 350 offers a range of accessories that enhance its utility. These accessories include a speaker, which can be useful for broadcasting audio messages or warnings during missions, and a robust light that can be synchronized with the gimbal’s movements, allowing for precision illumination in various scenarios. Whether you need to light up a car in a dark environment or illuminate a football field for aerial filming, this feature adds an extra layer of functionality to the drone.
Overall, the DJI Matrice 350 stands out as a long-range drone that combines extended flight time, extensive video transmission range, and a versatile selection of payloads and accessories. It’s a reliable choice for professionals who require a drone with the flexibility to adapt to different applications, from aerial surveying and inspection to night operations and beyond.
|Feature||DJI Matrice 350|
|Max takeoff weight||9.2 kg (20.28 lbs)|
|Max payload||2.7 kg (5.95 lbs)|
|Dimensions (unfolded)||1100 × 833 × 700 mm (43.31 × 32.80 × 27.56 in)|
|Dimensions (folded)||764 × 503 × 285 mm (30.08 × 19.80 × 11.22 in)|
|Flight time||Up to 45 minutes (with standard battery)|
|Max speed||16 m/s (35.8 mph)|
|Max wind resistance||12 m/s (26.8 mph)|
|Transmission system||DJI O3 Enterprise Transmission|
The Parrot Anafi Ai is a remarkable all-in-one solution designed to cater to the needs of drone pilots, offering an enticing balance between affordability and high-performance capabilities. Priced at $4,000, it becomes an attractive option for budget-conscious drone programs, allowing them to access cutting-edge technology without breaking the bank.
What sets the Anafi Ai apart is the integration of Pix4D capture directly into the drone’s system, empowering it to capture breathtaking levels of detail for both 2D maps and 3D models.
An outstanding feature of this drone is its capability to fly on LTE, providing near-unlimited range, although Parrot officially claims an impressive 27km one-way range.
It’s important to note, however, that the Parrot Anafi Ai does have a limitation when it comes to payload versatility, as it can only support a single payload at a time.
|Feature||Parrot Anafi Ai|
|Camera||48 MP Sony IMX586 sensor, 1/2.4″ size, 0.8?m pixels|
|Lens||23mm (equivalent to 35mm) fixed-focus, f/2.4 aperture|
|Zoom||6x digital zoom|
|Video format||MP4 (H.264, HEVC)|
|Photo resolution||48 MP (8000×6000), 12 MP (4000×3000)|
|Photo format||JPEG, DNG (RAW)|
|Flight time||Up to 25 minutes|
|Control range||Up to 4 km (with Skycontroller 4)|
|Dimensions||241x230x65 mm (folded)|
The Mavic 3 Enterprise has quickly established itself as the new gold standard in the world of mapping drones, setting a high bar for efficiency and performance.
With an impressive flight time of approximately 43 minutes, it offers extended airtime for mapping missions, which is crucial for covering larger areas.
What truly sets the Mavic 3 Enterprise apart is its remarkable speed and efficiency in completing mapping tasks. While legacy drones like the Phantom 4 Pro used to take around 20 minutes to create a map, the Mavic 3 Enterprise accomplishes the same task in just 11 minutes, significantly reducing mission duration.
However, it’s important to note that the Mavic 3 Enterprise does have some limitations in terms of its video features and capabilities.
Despite this drawback, it shines in its ability to capture intricate and detailed maps, making it a top choice for professionals seeking swift and precise mapping solutions.
|Feature||Mavic 3 Enterprise|
|Camera||20MP wide-angle camera, 12MP telephoto camera with 28x hybrid zoom, 4/3 CMOS sensor, 5.1K video recording at 50fps, 4K video recording at 120fps|
|Obstacle avoidance||Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance with six vision sensors and two anti-collision lights|
|Flight time||Up to 46 minutes|
|Transmission range||Up to 15km (FCC) or 12km (CE)|
|Accessories||RTK module, loudspeaker, spotlight, zoom lens kit|
The DJI M30T stands out as our top choice for inspection drones, combining exceptional payload capabilities with remarkable portability. This compact powerhouse packs a payload punch similar to the Matrice 300 but in a highly portable package, easily fitting into a small carry-on luggage.
Despite its small size, the M30t delivers impressive flight times and an array of camera options that make it ideal for inspection tasks. The 48MP zoom camera, with its astonishing 200x hybrid zoom capability, provides detailed imagery, while the thermal camera offers a high-quality 640p resolution, enabling simultaneous thermal and zoom or wide-angle imaging.
Notably, the drone boasts self-heating batteries, making it suitable for operation in a wide range of environments, and its swift 30-second setup time ensures it’s ready for flight at a moment’s notice.
Additionally, the M30t features a laser range finder, and innovative companies like Terranis have harnessed its capabilities to create superior 2D maps, further enhancing its appeal for inspection purposes.
|Payload||Hybrid visual and thermal imaging payload|
|Visual camera||48MP Zoom camera, 12MP Wide camera|
|Thermal camera||640 x 512 resolution, 30 Hz refresh rate, 2x optical and 8x digital zoom|
|Flight time||41 minutes|
|Maximum speed||23 m/s|
|Maximum wind resistance||15 m/s|
|Operating temperature range||-20°C to 50°C|
The Skydio X10, Skydio’s latest addition to the market in October 2023, showcases an impressive array of features and capabilities that make it a notable player in the drone industry.
Similar to the M30T, the X10 boasts a versatile triple camera payload, equipping it for a wide range of applications. What truly sets the Skydio drones apart is their unwavering commitment to autonomy and obstacle avoidance.
The autonomy engine takes precedence over pilot interaction, a critical advantage when navigating complex and obstacle-rich environments, such as powerlines and substations. While the initial cost of the drone may appear reasonable, it’s essential to note that Skydio charges for their software, which can result in a total investment ranging from $30,000 to $50,000.
This pricing model reflects the premium quality of the software’s capabilities. Moreover, the Skydio X10 offers the ability to fly at night, further expanding its operational window, with an impressive 35-minute flight time. Its camera suite is equally impressive, featuring a 1″ CMOS sensor similar to the Phantom 4 Pro, but with an astounding 50MP resolution.
Additionally, it includes a zoom camera and a large-format thermal sensor, making it a well-rounded and formidable tool for various professional applications.
|Cameras||Narrow camera: 64MP; Telephoto camera: 48MP; Radiometric thermal camera: 640 x 512 px|
|Flight time||40 minutes|
|Max speed||20 m/s (45 mph)|
|Max wind resistance||12.8 m/s (28.6 mph)|
|Autonomous flight modes||Yes|
|Payload capacity||500 grams (1.1 lbs)|
|Weight||2.49 kg (5.49 lbs)|
|Other features||IP55 weather resistance, 5G connectivity, swappable attachments|
The Mini 4 Pro, DJI’s latest micro drone, brings a world of possibilities to the fingertips of drone enthusiasts. Weighing in at less than 250 grams, this sub-250-gram marvel offers unparalleled freedom to explore the skies and capture breathtaking aerial footage in locations previously restricted by size and weight restrictions.
Particularly excelling as a “social media” drone, the Mini 4 Pro is capable of capturing stunning portrait-style videos, making it a top choice for those looking to create eye-catching content for sharing online. Its ultra-compact design allows it to slip into a small purse, ensuring it’s as portable as a drone can get.
The Mini 4 Pro extends the boundaries of micro-drones with its impressive 34-minute flight time and a remarkable 15-kilometer range, truly earning its place among the long-range drones. Despite being about the size of three iPhones, this tiny powerhouse packs an impressive punch, making it the perfect companion for capturing the world from a unique and captivating perspective.
|Feature||DJI Mini 4 Pro|
|Weight||Under 249 grams|
|Camera||1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor, 48MP still photos, 4K/60fps video|
|Video||4K/60fps HDR, 10-bit D-Log M and HLG|
|Gimbal||3-axis mechanical gimbal|
|Obstacle avoidance||Omnidirectional vision sensing|
|Flight time||Up to 31 minutes|
|Transmission range||Up to 10 kilometers|
|Intelligent features||ActiveTrack 4.0, FocusTrack, MasterShots, QuickShots|
|Safety features||Advanced Return to Home, Geofencing, Low Battery Warning|
When it comes to fixed wing drones, there’s a wealth of choices for various mission requirements, but let’s break down the top contenders. The Wingtra Gen 2 takes the lead with its impressive camera payload and integrated PPK GPS, delivering rapid orthomosaics like a speed demon.
Not to mention, its NDAA approval adds a layer of trust for domestic users.
The Autel Dragonfish Pro excels with its unmatched flight time and versatility in payload options, although it comes from a Chinese manufacturer.
For those who value diversity, the Trinity F90 stands out, offering easily swappable payloads and the added benefit of remote ID approval with NDAA compliance.
Meanwhile, the Ebee X is a mapping champ with extensive flight time and NDAA approval, but its vulnerable bottom-mounted payload and crash-rated landing methodology warrant caution.
If you’re on a budget and prioritize mapping missions, the Wingtra Gen 2 is your go-to. Keep in mind that these high-performing fixed wing drones often come with a hefty price tag, so prospective pilots should carefully weigh their deliverables and goals before making their choice, ensuring they soar with the right drone to meet their mission objectives.
For thrill-seekers and explorers who prefer multicopter drones, the Parrot Anafi AI is your best bet for the money. The next best domestic drone will be the Skydio X10 but will rack up a price point of almost 10x what the Parrot will cost.
Not only can both drones take you on a long-range journey, but it’s also able to fly on cellular service. In other words, it’s your perfect partner for remote escapades and long range inspections.
So, there you have it – the best long range drones, neatly divided into their respective categories. Now, all that’s left is for you to choose the perfect partner for your next high-flying adventure. Whether you’re mapping, exploring, or just indulging in the pure joy of flight, these drones will take you to new heights. Happy droning, fellow sky explorers!
When selecting a long-range drone, factors to consider include video transmission distance and live feed quality, battery power and endurance, and the drone’s ability to operate on LTE or cellular networks, especially if you require connectivity over long distances.
Fixed wing drones excel in long range missions due to their efficient aerodynamics, offering extended flight times and coverage capabilities. Multirotor drones, while capable of flying long distances, generally have limitations in comparison to their fixed wing counterparts.
The Wingtra One Gen II is known for its NDAA approval and exceptional cartography capabilities. It offers precise geo-tagging through PPK (Post-Processed Kinematic) positioning, making it an outstanding choice for mapping tasks.
In the multirotor category, the DJI Matrice 350 is a strong contender, known for its 55-minute flight time and a video transmission range of up to 20 kilometers. It stands out for its adaptability, supporting a wide range of payloads, including thermal imaging, zoom, and wide-angle cameras, as well as LiDAR sensors. This makes it suitable for various professional applications.
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