With the introduction of drones the surveillance through the air is becoming more popular. Unmanned surveillance drones were first used by the police and the military. However, the technology has developed and these drones are becoming more and more prominent in society today. Also, it is expected that the popularity will continue to grow within the coming years.
What is drone surveillance?
Drone surveillance is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to capture of still images and video to gather information about specific targets, which might be individuals, groups or environments.
What kind of surveillance can be done with drones?
According to microdrones.com, you can:
- Surveillance of large events, festivals, concerts, and sports
- Traffic surveillance
- Surveillance of sporting facilities
- Photography for preserving evidence
- Surveillance of illegal activities
- Countering illegal drug operations
- Criminal prosecutions in cities
- Monitoring of flooding
- Anti-terror operations
- Monitoring of critical infrastructure
- Surveillance of hostile demonstrations
- Deployment against human trafficking – monitoring & surveillance
- Surveillance of maritime traffic
- Monitoring of tsunami
- Border surveillance
- Anti-piracy operations
- Surveillance of illegal immigrants
- Perimeter surveillance
- Police-related activities
- Search for missing persons
Today drones come with inbuilt cameras to make it easier for anyone to take photos and capture videos. They can also perform different tasks such as radio jamming, heat sensing, radar detection and surveillance. These drones will allow you to watch what your device is capturing live by simply connecting your mobile device.
Best surveillance drone for sale
DJI Phantom 4
The first model that we’re going to talk about is the DJI Phantom 4. It’s currently one of the best RC drones that you can buy today. For surveillance purposes, there’s no other model I’d rather have.
Not matter who are what you’re surveying, flight time is critical. That’s why I included the DJI Phantom 4 on this list- it has an impressive flight time of close to half-an-hour!
It’s also relatively fast. At its quickest, it can travel at 45 MPH, which is great. Combined with a 1,200 FPS camera, you’re looking at one of the best surveillance drones for sale on the market.
To be honest, I can’t think of too many drawbacks to this quadcopter. Perhaps the only one is its price, but that can easily be overlooked considering how many features you get in return.
Additionally, it also has a built-in video editor. With the feature, you can make changes to the video, add music and beautify your aerial videos without using different software.
Other great features of the drone include the following: GPS tracking for more comfortable to control and maneuverability and gimbal stabilization for stable and smooth images. Though it carries a high price point, the complete package makes this one of the best surveillance drones for sale on the market.
We can’t think of too many drawbacks to this quadcopter. Perhaps the only one is its high price point, but that can easily be overlooked considering how many features you get in return.
Also, if you’re looking for something that’s sleek and cool-looking, then the DJI Phantom 4 won’t disappoint.
Parrot Bebop 2
Another great drone for surveillance is the Parrot Bebop 2. It offers a respectable flight time of 25 minutes which, for the price, is phenomenal.
Since surveillance cameras are designed for observing a specific area (or object), they need to be good. Fortunately, the Parrot Bebop’s camera is high-quality.
The quadcopter features a 14-megapixel 1080 camera that will capture clear aerial footage while on-the-move. At 30 FPS, you won’t be disappointed.
What about range? The Parrot Bebop 2 has a range of about 300 meters. That’s typically the best-case scenario.
As an added touch of depth, this surveillance drone gives an immersive flight experience with the Parrot Cockpitglasses. It uses standard-sized smartphones to provide a first-person view of what your drone is seeing.
Just download the FreeFlight Pro app on your phone, place it into the Cockpitglasses, and enjoy the beautiful view your drone can give you.
Speaking of the app, the FreeFlight Pro app also serves as the storage device for your surveillance drone. It keeps all the photos, videos, routes and other flight data that can be shared with your family, friends, and colleagues.
You can also download three additional apps – Flight Director, Flight Plan and Follow Me – for GPS and virtual tracking functionalities on your drone.
If you’re in a crowded city environment with many buildings and interfering signals, then the range will probably be shorter. Check it out and let me know what you think!
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
Next on our list of best surveillance drones is the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced. Although it’s not quite as good as the DJI Phantom 4, it’s very close.
The flight time for this quadcopter is 25-28 minutes and it’s capable of streaming 720p video live. Even if you’re flying in windy conditions, the Phantom 3’s camera will still deliver stable footage.
Capture the world in crisp and clear 2.7K HD with its fully integrated camera. Even if you’re flying in windy or otherwise unstable conditions, the Phantom 3’s camera will still deliver stable footage. This is due to the fully stabilized 3-axis gimbal that the drone comes with.
The reason this drone is so great for surveillance is that it allows you to fly via FPV. This means that you get to see what your drone’s camera sees in real time.
It is also capable of streaming 720p live video by connecting your phone or tablet to the remote controller and using the DJI Pilot app. It utilizes DJI Lightbridge image transmission to send the live feed from your unit to your device. You can also manage flight patterns and camera controls from the mobile device, adding convenience and accessibility.
For storage, it comes packed with a 16GB Micro-SD card. It also has a Micro USB cable that can be used to connect to other storage devices.
As for range, you can fly the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced about a mile away before you start to lose signal. GPS is not limiting this amazing surveillance drone. Even in low-fly, indoor or areas with little to no GPS connection, the device can still fly thanks to its Vision Positioning technology.
That’s due to the fully stabilized 3-axis gimbal on the drone. The reason this drone is so great for surveillance is that it allows you to fly via FPV.
This means that you get to see what your drone’s camera sees in real time. As for range, you can fly the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced about a mile away before you start to lose signal.
Some flyers claim being able to fly theirs up to 3 miles away, but I’ve never been able to accomplish this with my own model.
Yuneec Typhoon Q500
The Yuneec Typhoon Q500 will make for an excellent surveillance quadcopter, and here’s why: it has a flight time of 25 minutes, a high-quality camera, and is super-easy to control.
Firstly, it’s powered by a 5,400 mAh Li-Po battery (sorry to disappoint all you gasoline-powered drone fans out there!). The live stream range is about 600 meters, which is pretty good.
Secondly, its 12-megapixel camera has both Ultra HD and Full HD rendering capabilities. It captures 4K, 2.7K, and 2.5K Ultra HD resolutions at 30FPS. It is also able to render 1080p full HD resolution with up to 120FPS.
Additional features of the drone’s camera include aerial optimized fixed focus, which helps keep the videos stable despite strong winds. It also has a video transmission with a range of 400 meters, a reasonable distance for getting lovely aerial shots.
We like the fact that the camera has a 130-degree field of view. This will allow you to capture more of the scenery when doing surveillance or reconnaissance.
To store your videos and images, the drone uses class 10 micro SD memory cards. It can also be expanded up to 128 GB.
Thirdly, looking at the surveillance drone’s design, it is aesthetically appealing. It has a sleek, modern look and is made with durable and weather-resistant material.
Fourthly, the drone comes with a 2.4 GHz, 10-channel ground station with a built-in touch panel that doubles as an FPV screen. It can reach the drone up to 400 meters or a thousand feet.
The ground station runs on the Android Operating system, like most smartphones and tablets, and can use various apps for autonomous flight modes. These apps include Follow Me, Watch Me, Dynamic Return Home, and Geo-Fencing, to name a few.
I really like the fact that the camera has a 130-degree field of view. This will allow you to capture more scenery while doing surveillance.
The design is aesthetically appealing and the drone comes with a 2.4 GHz, 10-channel transmitter with a built-in FPV screen.
Traxxas Aton Plus Quadcopter
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No list of best surveillance drones would be complete without mentioning the Traxxas Aton Plus Quadcopter. The Aton offers the best of both worlds: it’s super-stable and can surpass speeds of 50 MPH.
There aren’t many similarly-priced drones on the market capable of doing that! The quadcopter comes with a 2-axis gimbal, which should yield better surveillance footage.
It’s powered by a powerful 5,000 mAh 3s Li-Po battery. What I like about this drone is that it’s fast and agile enough for experienced flyers, yet, easy to fly for beginners. My favorite feature is the “Return-to-Home” feature.
Here’s how it works: If you get into trouble, just press the “return-to-home” button on the transmitter and the drone will return to its original starting location without you having to do anything.
Something that the drone is missing, though, is the inclusion of a camera. However, while it does not have its dedicated camera, this does give room for you to use whatever action camera you prefer.
Apart from its basic build, the Aton Plus has three different modes that would fit any drone user. For the budding or master filmmaker, there is the Film mode that utilizes its easy controls for simple and beautiful shots.
Then, there is the Sports mode for the sports junkies. In this mode, its full throttle control is unlocked, giving more maneuverability and to the drone and allowing more tricks and flips to be made with a touch of a button. The built-in 6-axis flight stabilizers and air brakes keep control and security while having fun.
Lastly, we have the Expert mode for the masters of flight. It works like the Sports mode, but providing more control, to allow time to plan actions, and more freedom to move as you please.
My favorite feature is the “Return-to-Home” feature. Here’s how it works: If you get into trouble, press the “return-to-home” button on the transmitter and the drone will return to its original starting location without you having to do anything.
As a bonus, you can connect this drone to your smartphone or tablet for more control. By using the Traxxas Flight Link, it transforms your device into an intuitive user interface. It provides options like adjusting Film mode speed and LED settings, setting Geofence radius and max altitude, and monitoring battery status, among others.
This surveillance quadcopter is tough, comes with LED lights for night flying, and is fully customizable.
DJI Mavic Pro
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Last but certainly not least is the DJI Mavic Pro. This small, yet, highly-powerful drone will take to the skies with seemingly infinite power. It’s much more compact and sleek than the other models on this list.
I’d go as far as to say that it’s DJI’s most sophisticated quadcopter yet. The best surveillance drones need to be extremely stable, and the DJI Mavic Pro meets this standard.
Let’s start looking at the specifics of this device. When folded up, the quadcopter is about the size of a water bottle. That says a lot about how compact it is. However, despite its size, it’s overflowing with power.
It offers a 4K camera, 3-axis gimbal, 4 vision sensors, and a range of about 4.3 miles. When folded up, the quadcopter is about the size of a water bottle. That says a lot about how compact it really is.
Also, with a 27-minute flight time and 4-mile range, you’ll have a ton of flexibility as far as what you’re able to accomplish with it.
As for taming this little wonder, it comes with a set of master and slave remote controllers. This allows beginners to learn drone flying along with an expert, as well as maximizing the enjoyment of your drone.
You can also integrate your smartphone in a variety of ways. You can set your phone on the DJI Goggles for a first-person experience, or download the DJI Go 4 Editor to edit and share your captured moments on the fly. If you choose to do so, your phone can turn into a handy controller as well.
New flyers will appreciate the drone’s “Obstacle Avoidance” feature that will help keep you in the air and reduce the risk of a crash. Thanks to its FlightAutonomy technology, it senses obstacles up to 15 meters away and takes the appropriate actions to avoid crashing or any accident.
As with most “Best of” lists, we have some honorable mentions. These are the drones we found to be close to the top items on our list, but still needs more work to be considered as one of the best surveillance drones for sale. Winding explanations aside, here are our honorable mentions.
Beeyeo S-Series S70W
First on this list of drone surveillance systems is the S70W RC drone from Beeyeo. While it does have the makings of a excellent surveillance drone, it does need help on a feature or two to cut.
Looking at the built-in camera, it has an optimized 1080p HD setup, with a 120-degree FOV and 90-degree adjustable angle. Like most surveillance drones, it has both video recording and real-time live viewing through your smartphone or tablet.
Controlling this unit will not be a chore. It has different flight functions to help flying, like speed adjustment, headless mode, and altitude hold. A follow me feature is added, so you are always part of those memorable moments.
It is also beginner friendly, as it has one key take off and landing feature to help start or end your flight session. The inclusion of GPS assist functionality, giving it accurate and reliable positioning information, is a welcome addition for the budding flyer. There is also a Low Battery Return feature that, as it implies, automatically drives the unit back whenever the battery is almost out.
Which leads us to some of the unit’s less desirable points. Although it packs a lot in its frame, it only has a flight time of 15 minutes. A relatively short span compared to the other items on the list.
Add to that a less powerful 2500 mAh battery, this could translate to less time flying, and more time charging. Bringing multiple batteries may address this issue, but some may find that to be an unnecessary hassle.
Recommendation for this unit may be limited to the beginning flyer, as it has excellent features for them. However, with the limit to its battery power and flight time, it may only work for short-range surveillance tasks.
Considered by some as a close look-alike to the DJI’s Phantom line of drones, this quadcopter has more to it than what it implies. Let’s look at the features that make this unit more than just an ordinary copycat.
The drone has a maximum horizontal speed of 14m/s. This is backed up by an 11.1v 5400 mAh battery that supplies the juice it needs.
Camera quality is essential for a drone surveillance unit. Good thing for the UPair One, it has a choice between two camera types. For those who are just after the fun, there is the 2.7K camera that provides excellent photos and videos. On the other hand, those looking for better shots and videos can opt for the higher quality 4K camera for an additional cost.
The package also comes with a 2-axis gimbal that stabilizes and assists with camera focus. This allows you to have beautiful and amazing shots all the time. You can also store your videos and photos on a class 4 microSD card that can be placed on the unit. Using one from 32 GB onwards is highly recommended.
To pilot the UPair One, the package includes a sleek and stylish controller. While it shares some resemblance with the DJI Phantom’s controller, it brings several unique features that set it apart.
One of these is the addition of a dedicated 7-inch screen to see what your surveillance drone is seeing. The control sticks work similar to most controllers, so adapting to this one should be no problem.
As for bells and whistles, this unit has a lot to offer. It has a built-in GPS, a maximum communication range of 1 kilometer, intelligent orientation control, and position hold, to name a few. For security, it also has a one-key return, failsafe auto return, and low battery return functionalities.
With its power and capabilities, why is it on this part of the list? Well, its main drawback is its flight time, which is only 18 minutes long. The shorter flight time, compared to the top products on this list, is what places this otherwise great surveillance drone on the honorable mentions.
Another surveillance drone for our honorable mention is the Potensic D80. It does carry most of the specs that make an excellent drone surveillance system. However, let us see what makes this unit a thing of beauty.
One of its numerous great features is its horizontal flying speed. With its strong brushless motors, it can reach a horizontal flying speed of 25 to 40 mph. Comparing this to the other units on the list, it has one of fastest speeds and is a great dealmaker.
To match its flying speed, this unit has a control distance of up to 800 meters. Meaning, you have enough range to control your drone for its speed. Moreover, in the event it goes beyond the set distance, it has a no signal return feature that automatically returns to the home location.
Regarding control, this surveillance drone has the usual setup as the other units, and then some. It has a one-button takeoff and landing system, making the start of any flight a comfortable experience. The controller also has low power and weak signal alarm, telling you what is happening and prompting the drone to return to your position.
GPS-wise, the unit packs a lot. It has the usual GPS capabilities, as well as the Follow Me feature so your drone will be wherever you are. Additionally, it has a Point of Interest feature that makes the unit fly clockwise on a specific location you indicate using the app.
Speaking of the app, let’s go to its connection capabilities. It can connect to your smartphone or tablet for additional control or video transmission via the mobile app. With the 5 GHz Wi-Fi module, it can transmit 1080p images and real-time video with a range of 300 meters.
Storage for the images and videos use a microSD card, as with most products. We recommend using one that has at least 32GB of memory.
Which now brings us to some of the product’s weak points. As stated above, the unit’s camera is capable of 1080p resolution. Unfortunately, other products can render 2.7K and even 4K Ultra HD. This difference in camera output may affect those who are after a better and stronger camera.
Another drawback of this surveillance drone is its flight speed. While it has one of the fastest horizontal flight speeds, it can only do so up to 20 minutes. While this is lower than the best surveillance drones for sale, it is a great feat considering that the battery is only 1800 mAh.
Mota Pro Live-5000
One of the unique looking drones is the Pro Live-5000 from Mota. Toted as a business class drone, it has some features that would work well with the urban environment.
First of these features is its compact size. Measuring less than 14 inches and weighing less than 6 ounces, it is smaller than a piece of paper. Taking advantage of its size, it can maneuver through small spaces with ease, definitely a good thing for drone surveillance units.
Regarding maneuverability, the unit has six rotors and moves using the Y-axis, making it easier to move around. It also has gyroscope stabilization and an accelerometer, so the drone flies smoothly and steadily. Flight modes can also be changed, well, in a fly, to meet the desired pattern of whoever is using it.
Its remote control also has simple controls for those learning how to use these units. It has one button take off and landing features, making takeoff and landing easy. It also has a dedicated display screen, allowing you to view what your drone sees real time.
With its compact design, it does miss out on some features. For one, it only carries a 360 mAh battery, the smallest among the list. This translates to only a concise flight time of 6 to 7 minutes. It also has a long charge time of 210 minutes.
It also has a limited flight range of 100 meters. In case the unit goes out of its control range, it has an auto return feature so it can go back to where you are.
Another drawback of this drone is its camera, which can only display up to 720p. This may seem enough for regular drone surveillance systems. For those who are into aerial photography, and want better pictures and video resolution, they may find the unit quite lacking.
While it may not be the ideal choice for a surveillance drone because of its subpar battery, flight time and camera, it does makeup in other ways. It is highly maneuverable and able to move on tight places, an excellent choice for urban surveillance.