Are Drones Worth It?

UAVs, or drones, whatever you call them, are one of the most fascinating and versatile innovations that have aptly captured the interest of professionals and hobbyists alike.

We humans can’t fly but these flying robots let us do so without having to move an inch from where we are. 

But as the buzz around these unmanned flying objects grows louder, the question emerges: Are drones worth it?  

Yes, drones are worth it. They aren’t meant just for your recreational activities but also provide great practical and functional value in various sectors, like agriculture, construction, healthcare, mining, and more. 

Continue reading as I decode the pros and cons of this state-of-the-art technology through my experience of studying them and their impact for several years.

I’ll also discuss some of my personal drone favorites in case you plan to buy one after the article, which you will! 

So, let’s get started.

Decoding the Pros and Cons of Drones

Are Drones Worth It?

No matter how beneficial drones are in the personal and commercial landscape, they also come with a spectrum of drawbacks. Read them below to navigate the complex world of drones.

Pros of Drones

The following upsides of drones make them one of the most influential technological innovations of this age.

  • Fun to Fly

Let’s admit that drones are fun to fly. They work pretty much like your RC-controlled car but with easier controllability.

With further advancements in the field, modern drones even come with dedicated beginner-friendly modes to let even school kids have a blast. 

Not just this, better communication technology has further improved the responsiveness of these flying beauties, making them more stable in every weather condition. 

So, who can resist taking charge of the controller? Not me, at least!

  • Cheaper to Deploy

Drones are cheaper to deploy than other crewed aircraft, like helicopters, in fields where air support is critical.

For example, news coverage, police surveillance, aerial mapping, remote sensing, and emergency response, to name a few. 

On average, a helicopter rental service usually costs $200-$2000/hour, as tabulated by Pilot Teacher.

I still need to include the extra charges you may incur in the process and the extra time needed to secure your local authorities’ clearance to fly the copter.

On the contrary, the above rental fee is sufficient to get you the best-in-class drone to serve you for years! 

And guess what? Buying a drone is a one-time expense, keeping the cost of spare parts and accessories aside for a moment. 

So, which is the better option? You know now!

  • Easy Access Across Difficult Areas

Making difficult and hard-to-reach areas accessible is another feather in the cap of drones. This is especially critical for emergencies where every second counts and the response needs to be as quick as possible. 

Take the example of law enforcement agencies (discussed in detail later) and firefighters, who also happen to be the most prolific users of drone technology. 

Or maybe in the case of a contagious viral outbreak, the only option for sending medicines, supplies, and other relief materials is to deploy drones. It prevents the odds of spreading the viral outbreak beyond the affected area.

  • A Handy Tool for Businesses

Drones are indeed a handy tool for almost every business out there. You name it, and you’ll find it using drones in one way or another. 

While real estate agents can obtain picture-perfect aerial shots of a property they are trying to sell, those in the construction sector can deploy a commercial drone to assess the entire site, power lines, or even industrial equipment. 

Note: Drones have tapped into the logistics and delivery fields, too.

  • A Rewarding Career Option

If you’re really into drones, why not build a career out of it? 

Yes, the demand for drone pilots is on a surge globally, with reports suggesting at least 100,000 positions to open up by 2025.

This is in line with the rapidly growing global commercial drone market that’s projected to reach the size of around $38 billion in 2027.

If you’re wondering about the wages, they’re also lucrative at an average of $120,824 per annum, according to Glassdoor.

Cons of Drones

However, no technology is without its share of cons and even drones are not an exception here. 

  • Privacy Concerns

Privacy is one of the biggest issues associated with these flying robots. You may find this hard to believe, but a report by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University states that people are wary of any type of drone flying around or above them and termed it a violation of their Right to Privacy

In one incident related to my colleague, he found his family, who were strolling along the beachline, being videoed by a drone without authorization.

Similarly, there are endless such incidents actively reported from around the globe, accusing drones of being used to invade someone’s privacy such as looking through their house

  • Prone to Crashes

Drones, being unmanned, are prone to frequent crashes. This isn’t limited to entry-level models but commercial ones, too.  

Read this report from The New York Times, which covers a 2015 commercial drone crash resulting in kicking up debris that cut and bruised an 11-month-old girl.

The same year also reported a small “quadcopter” crashing into the White House, per USA Today

Even military drones aren’t protected from crashes, with as many as 400 US military drones dashed to pieces till 2014, as stated in this article by The Guardian.  

Due to these worrisome incidents, effective drone regulation and flight training are a must to encourage the social acceptance of drones.

  • Limited Flight Time

So far, we’ve seen that drones are time and cost-effective. But this isn’t entirely true. Let me explain.

Drones, despite being a state-of-the-art tech innovation, have a very short flight time. On average, I find it in the 20-30-minute range.

This acts as a major hindrance when it comes to conducting extended aerial operations or capturing extensive footage, for which multiple flights would be required. As a result, escalated costs become inevitable. 

One main reason behind such a limited flight time is the size of the batteries powering them.

They are typically made small and lightweight to reduce the overall weight of the drone.

Plus, the tiny batteries must keep the drone’s motors and other components running, which are further power-hungry. 

All these result in quick consumption of the battery’s charge and short flight times.

  • Weather Interference + Environmental Factors

Another major weakness of drones is their susceptibility to weather interference. Be it strong winds, rain, snow, fog, or thunderstorms, their flight is easily disturbed by these phenomena. 

Besides extreme weather conditions, certain environmental factors can also bring down your beloved drone—for example, high altitude, unfavorable temperature, and high humidity.

I’ve personally experienced that each of these has a detrimental impact on the range and maneuverability of drones!

Transformative Impact of Drones Across Industries

Let’s now explore the transformative impact of drones across several industries. 

Film & Entertainment 

Drones have unlocked new possibilities in the film & entertainment sector, resulting in enhanced storytelling and visually captivating experiences at more than half the earlier costs. Wondering how? 

Thanks to these UAVs, filmmakers no longer need to rent or purchase expensive choppers, cranes, or Steadicams for aerial cinematography.

Delivery/Transportation

Be it life-saving medical supplies, food, or other goods, “delivery drones” have finally become a reality. 

Several countries, including Australia, Canada, Botswana, Ghana, Uganda, the UK, and the US, are leading the way in enabling fast and cost-effective delivery solutions in remote or hard-to-reach areas. 

While it’s Zipline and United Parcel Service (UPS) in the medical domain, Flytrex and Wing will surely satisfy your cravings with their instant drone-based food delivery service. For other goods, how can I miss Amazon and Wingcopter?

Agriculture 

Drones first stepped into the agricultural sector in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until the 2010s that farmers saw enough potential in this technology. 

From fighting against yield-robbing pests to monitoring crop health, agriculturalists have witnessed significant improvements in farm management after deploying these flying robots in their fields.

For instance, Taranis is a pioneer name here that’s on a mission of providing A.I. powered crop intelligence solutionsto farmers globally.

Construction 

The one main purpose for which construction companies rely on drones is to monitor the progress of their undertakings. 

By deploying a drone in the air, the firm can get the real-time status of the project(s) quickly.

This not only saves a huge chunk of money for all the parties involved (the construction company itself, investors, and clients) but also paves the way for future assignments. 

One engineering company that comes to mind here is Bechtel Corporation.

Law Enforcement 

Law enforcement agencies find a great helping hand in drones, equipped with high-quality cameras and sensors, for various purposes.

Aerial surveillance, search & rescue operations, monitoring large events, crime scene investigation, and gathering evidence, to name a few. 

This helps the agencies respond to emergencies more promptly and effectively, leading to a smooth operation.

Some popular names include the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Chicago Police Department, the New York Police Department (NYPD), and more, who have been utilizing drone tech to increase their operational efficiency.

Energy 

In the energy sector, a drone’s high-resolution imaging capability monitors capital-intensive infrastructures like solar farms and turbines.

Doing so not only captures detailed data about the assets’ conditions, but also assists in maintenance-related decision-making. Some oil and gas firms in the USA using drones are Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Equinor, etc.

Real Estate

Last but not least, I’ve personally seen how real estate dealers use UAVs for aerial photography and videography to showcase properties from different angles.

Not just stunning visuals, using drones here also gives potential buyers a sneak peek of the property’s layout, location, and surrounding area. 

Some popular real estate companies that have embraced quadcopters in property marketing and visualization are Zillow, Redfin, Coldwell Banker, and my favorite, Compass

From Recreation to Utility: Unleashing Personal Drones

If you’re looking to buy a drone for entertainment or to take photos or videos from an aerial perspective, “personal drones” are your best bet. 

Take the DJI Mini 3 Pro, for example. 

It resembles those high-flying UAVs from your favorite movie but is comparatively smaller and lightweight @ 249g (or 0.548 lbs). However, don’t let its compact size fool you.

This mini-sized but mega-capable drone lets you shoot 4K HDR videos, avoid obstacles with its built-in Tri-Directional Obstacle Sensing tech, stay focused with FocusTrack, and more. 

I’ve been using this DJI Mini 3 Pro for the last two years, and it has lived up to its reputation very well for a plethora of activities, like: 

  • Drone racing, 
  • Nature exploration, 
  • Aerial stunts and acrobatics, 
  • Social media content creation, etc.

What Are the Rules for Recreational Flyers?

Below are some rules laid down by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for recreational flyers: 

  • Fly only for personal enjoyment. 
  • Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community-Based Organization (CBO
  • Your drone must stay within the visual line of sight. 
  • Don’t interfere with other aircraft and give way as required.
  • Fly at or below FAA-authorized altitudes in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E). 
  • In the uncontrolled Class G airspace, fly at or below 400 feet. 
  • Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). 
  • Don’t forget to carry your proof of test passage when flying. 
  • Don’t operate your drone in a manner that endangers the national airspace system’s safety. 

For more information, visit this page.

What Is the Best Personal Drone to Buy?

Although the best drone to buy depends on your needs and budget, you can check out these five models from my collection (which comprises 11+ drones.)

Reasons to buy: HDR video quality, obstacle detection, ADS-B, automated camera shots, and AirSense transponder. 

Reasons to buy: Integrated GPS, multiple upgrades available, steady 35-minute battery, and a stabilized triple-camera array. 

Reasons to buy: Three-way obstacle sensors, 6K30 & 4K60 video quality options, Hyperlapse, and automated return-to-home. 

Reasons to buy: 12 & 50 MP photos, live video feed, long-lasting battery, and a handful of Quick Shots (Fade Away, Flick, Orbit, and Rocket).  

Reasons to buy: Electronic image stabilization, low battery protection, extremely lightweight (80g), no need for FAA registration, and high-quality image processor. 

Conclusion

I hope this article helped you decide whether drones are worth it. Not just an asset for recreational activities, this technology’s transformative impact across sectors is also worth appreciating. 

Just as every coin has two sides, drones, too, come with several potential drawbacks—for example, safety risks, privacy concerns, legal issues, and, most importantly, hacking. 

So, which side are you on? Are drones worth it for you, or not? Let me know in the comments below. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Are Drones Worth the Investment?

A: Going by the various benefits drones have to offer for both recreational and professional flyers, they are worth the investment. Still, you shouldn’t overlook their cons, as I discussed above. 

Q: Is It Worth Buying a DJI Drone?

A: Being a DJI Air 3 user myself, it’s indeed worth it to buy a DJI drone. Irrespective of which model you choose, you’ll take pleasure in its high-quality camera + videography capabilities, reliability, durability, and smart flight modes. 

Q: Is There a Future in Drones?

A: Yes, there’s a future in drones, with several groundbreaking advancements in this industry looking promising.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

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