Price of industrial drones

I have been getting qoutes for a drone to add to our inspection business. So far I have quotes from Aibotix, Ascending Technologies, Aeryon and Altus. We currently use a Draganflyer X4. These professional drones have a massive price tag attached to them and I am wondering how they can be so expensive compared to a cinematoghraphy drone thats carrying a red epic camera around a movie set. What makes them so expensive? Whats in there that can add up to 65K. If you ask the manufacturers you get the same answer. There industrial grade, there not mass produced in china, there safer more reliable. yada yada what separates a 65k dollar drone from a drone that can be built with the best motors and best ESC's on a solid platform. Is it the flight controller? Is the flight controller in a falcon x8 or an Altus what separates these drones from the rest? I was wondering if someone could shed some light on this for me. 

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            • Problem  is, from having looked into that, no one can be sure. DJI launched Geo as optional beta on p3, word from DJI VP of policy Brendan S.  is it will be a firmware update on p4.  But it's unclear how the final authorization will look like.  We'll know soon enough ...

              This we do know: As far as no fly zones, DJI will implement them one way or another on Phantoms and Inspires (not WKM and A2) which for this purpose DJI treats   as "consumer/prosumer"  drones (And they are, even as some pros use them very effectively and DJI calls them pros in marketing literature).   And the last release of GEO required pre-authorization valid for a limited time (in case you don't have wifi/cell connection in the field). With Pixhawk and Open Source, this just won't happen.

              Whether 3DR with closed up PX4 will follow DJI lead ...  don't know  ...

              Also, no question that (from Rob): "If there's one thing that DJI has proven without question, is that they can, and will change the rules however and whenever they feel, and force those rules on you, and there's nothing you can do about it."

              PS: > only have PH3 bcs i could not resist easy of deploy when traveling..

              Same here ;)

    • This is, of course, correct. If anything reliable off-the-shelf can do the job, that is the way to go.

      You can liken it to ipads. Commercial airline pilots use ipads for their flight checks and manuals. Many many other serious applications (business, commercial, industrial) use ipads or other tablets. There is absolutely no comparison in terms of reliability or cost to a semi-stock setup.

      But that assumes the tools (software and hardware) are there to carry out the missions. 

      This may suss out differently in 3-5+ years when all the centimeter accuracy and specialty built stuff all comes together - like PreNav ,etc. 

      At the same time I wouldn't be surprised if even PreNav and similar companies ended up building their platforms on top of already existing platforms such as DJI and Snapdragon-based models to come. Or, maybe google, facebook or one of the others will champion a very reliable drone base system to be built upon. 

      But that's all in the future. 

      Cockpit iPads
      Cockpit iPads are iPads used in the aviation industry as part of an electronic flight bag to replace paper charts and manuals. This technology is cur…
  • @HighVoltage As others have pointed out it's a combo of low volume and high overhead.  I would expect (hope) that at 65K they are offering a full spectrum solution and not just a frame.  E.g. flight controller with some mission specific capabilities and software analytics on the back end.  The airframe is not really the hardest part.  Tightly integrating a solution that is reliable and easy to use is another story.  Whether it rates the price tag should be a matter of determining the return on investment (ROI).  If your company has been performing more traditional inspections services you have the numbers available to figure out a rough estimate regarding potential saved time/labor/risk.  My bigger concern with platforms at 65K would be operating costs.  As the industry matures this will obviously start to become easier to compute.  At this point, I would argue that companies do not have enough flight time in various conditions/missions to provide highly accurate numbers.  Such is the risk of early adopters.



  • MR60

    High price tags are partly due to regulations and certifications constraints imposed by our administration's. This costs huge investments on the part of drone's manufacturers or integrators. Do not forget also that integrators bear the costs of warranties, some insurance liability, etc

    All of these costs are part of a final price tag.

    However I can confirm you that 50k$ tags are largely exaggerated for a X8 multicopters capable of DSLR payload with an industrial grade quality. You should be more around 15-20k. 

    I forecast that businesses based on pure hardware, just like computers, won't be able to sustain such prices very long: you are getting now similar or better functionalities with drones that are smaller, lighter, in the couple of thousand dollars range. And the trend continues toward lower prices for better specs. 

    Future lays in added value services while hardware will just be an almost free commodity. 3DR is a good example of a company who understood that and leaves the hardware market to evolve toward a services (think of recurrent service subscriptions to generate recurring revenues) company. Unfortunately that leaves us in the dust to procure our hardware parts, but that is another topic.

  • Did you see the coax set-up on those motors? Two props, "one" motor (or two halves?)  Have never seen this before ...

    • Moderator

      You can get those from HK and other vendors.

      • Lol, sure Gary ... HK link and specs on those 12S coax motors, please?

        Best bet from the looks is probably custom manufactured and unavailable KDE, have yet to find them but maybe I haven't looked hard enough ... Know of any other "vendors" for those?

        • Not sure if they're custom or KDE is doing them.  But I could modify the KDE motors for that myself.  The KDE motors are designed to be disassembled for service, and have huge bearings with big shafts making it all easy.

          I am already changing shafts in more standard motors.  ie: replacing the 5mm shaft with a 10cm long 6mm shaft for a direct drive helicopter application, etc.  It would be even easier on a KDE.  They are nicely designed motors.

  • If you are looking for a customized, high quality, yet reasonably priced multirotor equipped with a Pixhawk and running Arducopter, tested and tuned by one of the guys who wrote the program, please contact me at

    I can save you the hassle of trying to figure out which components are good (ESC's are hardest, so much junk out there).  And if you like, deliver after 1 hour of prove-out flight time to ensure no hassles.

    I build systems under contract.  Doing one now for a university research project near the north pole.

    • High Voltage: take in consideration Rob offer, He is a well recognized Pixhawk developer and great contributor to this forum helping others to solve problems and fly their drones; I hope He's going to asesorate you with exact you need and charge what the work values with the extra advantage that you have someone to call for help if something go wrong ;) .

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