Extreme sports enthusiasts love them, government survey workers use them, police are gobbling them up as fast as they can be made, and Amazon wants them to deliver straight to your door. The humble drone has come a long way from its beginnings as a child’s plaything. Now, drones are everywhere and doing everything, from delivering packages to saving human lives.
You can go down to your corner store and pick up a toy drone for fifty bucks, but for the drone enthusiast of means, there are lots of better options. Just make sure you bring your checkbook, ‘cause being on the bleeding edge of technology ‘aint cheap.
Whether you want your champagne delivered by air or the best action photo that money can buy, these are the most expensive personal drones available today.
We begin our journey into the highflying world of drones with the DJI Matrice Pro. Originally intended as an industrial drone, the Matrice is available to own for those with the coin to buy. It features a full carbon fiber body to save weight, a mount able to affix a variety of different cameras, a 35 minute potential flight time and a 5 km transmission range. It also conveniently folds up into a little box and can transmit to an app on your tablet.
Made in the good US of A (Texas to be exact), the Lifter Octocopter is another drone with camera lifting in mind. As the name suggests this massive drone has 8 propellers to keep it aloft, and even comes with retractable landing gear for ultra smooth landings. It’s only available in America, so international buyers are out of luck.
NEXT: SHOCKING USES OF DRONES
If you’re looking at being a high-tech bounty hunter, then this drone is for you. FlyByCopters’ X8 640R comes with a thermal camera that lets you see in the dark in full 4k vision. It also comes with an autopilot and GPS, letting you take off, land, and plan your flights without ever needed to take control yourself. At just over $12,000, we’re heading into small car price territory.
If you want smooth flights and cinematic quality images, then the Alta 8 is your drone. Capable of carrying a 20-pound camera on it's 8 proprietary carbon fiber propellers, the Alta 8 excels in landscape recording. It’ll also fold up into a convenient travel case for photo shoots in exotic locales. Just make sure you don’t crash it into an ocean-side cliff.
Xact Sense got their start making surveying drones for governments but now offers their Max-8 for commercial purposes. At this price you get all the features you could ask for - retractable landing gear, autonomous takeoff and landing, and even 2 camera arms so you can take full 3D images of the landscape. It just doesn’t fold away quite as easily as the earlier entries on this list.
PREVIOUSLY: DRONE RACING EXPLAINED
Now we’re heading into military grade hardware. The Draganflyer X4-ES comes with a camera that not only can take 21-megapixel images, it can also see in infrared, and even into the EM spectrum. Everything is gyro stabilized and controlled with a handheld unit that looks more like a Gameboy than an RC controller.
Here’s the drone that will deliver whatever cargo you ask of it, so long as it’s less than 5 pounds or so. Still, you can finally have your cell phone delivered by air whenever you lose it and have to buy a new one. If that’s not living in the future, I don’t know what is.
Once you get over the $10,000 mark, most drones will come with autopilot to prevent you from crashing. The F100 goes a step further - it also built in artificial intelligence that lets you select an object in view and follow it. You can set it to follow some skiers going down a mountain, a parasailer floating over the ocean, or even a car speeding down the highway. Just be prepared to remortgage your house just to get one.
The EHang 184 is not so much a drone as it is a flying car, but since you can control it with your phone it still counts. It comes with a cockpit that can fit one average-sized human (and even then it’s still pretty scary) and has a cruising speed of 60 kph. It has a maximum flight time of 25 minutes, and once you go beyond that the autopilot is designed to gently land wherever is available. Just make sure you didn’t overestimate the time to get to your yacht - this baby isn’t rated for water landings.