Types Of Drones: A Beginner’s Guide To Drone Models

different types of drones illustration

Drones are a fun innovation in unpiloted aircraft and spacecraft design. They are the must-have machines of the year. You may need them for work, or you want them for entertainment.

However, before rushing out to buy one of these machines, you’ll need a little information about them. There are many types of drones in different shapes and sizes. This article will discuss the best kinds available.

If you’re interested in learning about the different types of drones and what you’ll find on the market, read on!

What Are Drones?

In the aviation and space industry, a drone refers to an unpiloted aircraft or spacecraft. Another definition for them is “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or UAV. On Earth, the military uses different types of drones because they don’t put a pilot’s life at risk in combat zones.

Further, drones don’t require rest, enabling them to operate for as long as there is sufficient fuel in the craft and there are no mechanical problems.

Technically, space-borne drones can include cargo spacecraft, satellites, and machines that leave Earth, although terms for those machines vary. The best example of a space drone is the U.S. military’s mysterious X-27B spacecraft, which has made multiple flights into orbit for hundreds of days at a time. They classify this drone’s operational history, leading to speculation on its use.

Why Are Drones Used?

There are many different types of drones and they are used for a range of purposes. 

Military Drones

military drone flying in the sky

Airplanes have historic use in warfare since 1911 if you exclude the bomb-filled balloons that were first used in Austria in the mid-1800s. Drones have been around for almost as long. The U.S. Navy developed limited “air torpedoes” during World War I but didn’t advance and develop the concept until World War II.

During WWII, the U.S. Navy began a program called Operation Anvil. Remote-controlled B-24 bombers delivered explosives to German bunkers, but this operation was not so successful.

In fact, it was a disaster. Many planes crashed or exploded prematurely. For decades afterward, the United States focused on using rockets and simultaneously worked on drone manufacturing.

Drone manufacturing became popular during the 1991 Gulf War. The United States deployed UAVs. They have reported in 2018 that the drone market was worth over $20 billion. There are many military uses for drones.

However, the consumer market has released several drone options in recent times. Ordinary consumers seek to buy drones for varied purposes; photography, recreation and sometimes, personal surveillance. Drones have other uses. For instance, drones can distribute fertilizers to farmers’ fields and monitoring remote areas such as pipelines.

Drones for Other Applications

drone in white background

The United States Federal Aviation Administration has been cautious about allowing unpiloted vehicles to fly around in common airspace. There are several important safety concerns, such as drones crashing into buildings, interfering with airspace and causing multiple problems and damage to public and private structures.

In February 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration motioned to allow limited drone use with certain rules. According to the 2018 FAA guidelines, drone regulations advise that operators can fly only during daylight or twilight hours, with specific altitude and speed restrictions. Further, drones must always operate within the limits of sight of any operator.

Many companies have a vested interest in drone usage. Certain industries are considering how to use drones to deliver goods. This kind of delivery will reduce the costs of using delivery drivers for at home drop-off services.

Amazon is leading the way in drone shipping. Amazon advertises a future service called “Prime Air” which will send package deliveries to customers in less than 30 minutes. Amazon has submitted a letter of application to the FAA to begin drone use. Amazon also conducted its first test-drone deliveries in the UK in December 2016.

Government agencies have invested in drone usage. Government agencies occasionally use drones for safety, such as monitoring weather including storms and hurricanes. This kind of monitoring eliminates the need for manned aircraft which puts pilots at risk.

One example is of the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3), which was a five-year testing program using unmanned surveillance aircraft called the Global Hawks. It was a collaboration of NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense company in the state of Virginia.

Other reported applications of drone use have been in search-and-rescue missions and in-air 3D mapping of local terrain, such as forests or roads.

Different Types of Drones

There are types of drones depending on platforms, size, range and abilities. You will find the following categories listed below for further analysis.

Different Aerial Platforms


multi rotor drone in white background

Multi-rotor drones carry several motors on their body. They can stay in a stable position, in one spot, for a long flight time. This is an advantage for landscape and high altitude photos. They are a popular choice for aerial photography and surveillance.


drone with cam flying behind snowy background

The other major drone platform includes the fixed-wing drone. This kind of drone includes fixed wings. With this construction, the drone operates similarly to the style of aeroplanes. These drones cannot stay in a stable position for a long time. These models glide on a designated path for as long as their fuel source permits.


drone flying in the sky

They use a single-rotor drone for tailored flight. The single rotor will fly the drone, while another, smaller rotor near the tail controls direction. They also know these models as having a similar construction as RC helicopters.

Drones of this construction are more efficient than multi-rotor drones. They can fly higher and stay in one position without circling. These models use gas to power their bodies versus electricity.

Different Sized Drones

Very Small Drones

small drone flying above hand

Tiny drones can be as small as the size of an insect. They can also measure up to 50 cm in length. These drones are known as Nano or micro-drones. They are usually used for conducting biological warfare or to spy on people. They adapted the wings or rotors to be highly maneuverable in small and enclosed spaces.

Small Drones

small drone placed on white surface

Small drones are slightly bigger than micro-drones, but still measure small. Small drones will not exceed two meters and will have fixed wings. They are small and high-powered. You can launch them into the air by hand, and they will continue gliding easily through the air.

Medium Drones

medium sized drone flying in the sky

Medium drones are smaller than light aircraft, but still measure relatively large. They usually require transport labor. Transport of a medium-sized drone requires two people as these machines can weigh up to 200 kg.

Large Drones

Large drone placed n the floor

Large drones are drones that are as large as a small aircraft. The U.S. military frequently uses large drones. They send these machines into areas of high risk instead of fighter jets containing trained officers.

Large drones are optimal for surveillance missions. These kinds of missions are easily handled by drones because of powerful camera equipment attached to their bodies. These high-powered cameras can study any landscape and terrain from up to several hundred feet in altitude.

Differences in Range

Different types of drones vary in how far away a drone can fly. You can choose from several options when it comes to range.

Very Close Range

large drone being released by military officer

Toy drones fall in the category of very close range. These drones have a maximum range of around 5km. They can maintain altitude for 20 minutes or longer; even up to an hour, depending on the model.


close range drone

Close-range drones can fly from up to 50km away from the operator. Their powerful battery allows them to maintain altitude for upwards of six hours or more. The military uses close-range drones frequently.


drone flying in background

Short range drones can fly from 150km away from the operator. Merchants knows these drones as short-range models. They can maintain altitude for upwards of 12 hours or more and are another category of drone popular for various reasons. Two specific reasons include the purpose of spying and surveillance.


quadcopter in white background

Mid-range drones can receive operation signals from as far away as 650km. Surveillance is an obvious use for these drones, but they are also a popular choice for the collection of scientific data.

For example, they test data collected regarding weather, and geology of a particular region. It’s easy to see that drones are much more than simple flying machines. They can perform many varieties of tasks, which is why different types of drones have been set apart from each other based upon their ability to perform needed and specialized jobs.

Different Drone Abilities

Quadcopters & GPS Drones

black quadcopter in white background

The Quadcopter is one of the most popular models on the market. The Quadcopter uses four rotors positioned at the ends of a square of the drone body. They use this design to create toy drones and larger work drones. They link GPS drones to satellites via GPS.

These kinds of drones use satellite signals to decide the direction of their flight and altitude. They use this special design to create toy drones like the Quadcopter. These models are also popular work drones.

RTF & Trick Drones

quadcopter with remote in white background

(RTF) are ready-to-fly drones that are quick and easy to use. You can buy these drones, remove the packaging, and they come fully assembled. All you will need to do is charge the battery.

These models are a great introduction to the world of drone-flying. Trick drones, are fun because they are small, fast and highly maneuverable. They frequently use trick drones as toys.

You can maneuver these models to perform barrel rolls, flips and other shocking and entertaining moves in the air. They lack the extra accessories that weigh other models down.

Helicopter & Racing Drones

red quadcopter drone in white background

Helicopter drones use a single rotor to maintain altitude. They resemble a remote-control helicopter that can stay in the air for an extended time. Racing drones are also fun to use. These models are fast and agile.

Racing drones lack heavy accessories. This construction keeps their shape sleek and free of excess weight. These drones can exceed speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. You can use them in competition and championships. Many drone collectors appreciate these models.

Delivery Drones

drone with package

Delivery drones are quickly becoming a well-known choice for companies that need to distribute inventory. Delivery drones have an anchor (or basket) attached to their body for package insertion. You can easily affix a package for transport by this drone.

Delivery drones have a limited carrying capacity. Large packages are not ideal for delivery via a drone. However, researchers and manufacturers work continually to design bigger and better delivery methods for drone transport. This will open drone delivery for a wider range of package sizes.

Photography Drones

drone with camera flying over the sky

Photography drones have cameras or video cameras attached to their bodies. These drones carry accessories that can take HD-quality pictures and videos of the world from high altitudes. They manufactured these drones to withstand damage caused by harsh weather. The drone’s camera is durable.

Alternative-powered & Endurance Drones

drone flying by the beach

Alternative-powered drones use a variety of power sources, and they extend beyond electricity. Many types of drones run on gas power. They have also developed Nitro-fuel drones for racing purposes.

Endurance drones are the best models for distance flight. They build them strong and to have a longer flight time. Endurance drones can maintain altitude for three consecutive days. They can reach heights as far up as 30,000 ft above sea level. These models are spectacular.


This article has covered the wonderful world of drones and the many types of drones available on the market. It is an advancing market that involves personal use, government, and even industrial use for specialized shipping, data collecting, and monitoring purposes.

Drones are also highly enjoyable toys for children and adults. If you’re looking to invest in one of these amazing machines for personal use, hopefully this article has helped narrow down your search time. As outlined above, there are several models available for purchase.

Whether you’re looking for a drone to hoist a camera for photography use, or you’re looking for a race drone for entertainment, there is something on the market for you.

So, head to your most trusted drone dealer and inquire about your desired model. Drones will lead to high altitudes and long hours of technology-assisted work and entertainment.


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