The most common use of drones is aerial photography and videography, but that’s far from their only use. Drones can also transport and drop anything from fishing bait, to rescue supplies in emergencies. However, a regular camera drone can’t do this – you need a specialist heavy lift drone in order to transport products and supplies.
If you’re looking for drones that can carry things, we’ve found a range for you to choose from. Different factors affect how much weight they can carry, their range, battery life, and more, so you need to choose carefully based on your priorities.
So, where can you find a heavy lift drone? In this guide, we review the best drones that can carry heavy objects. We’ll also take a close look at how a heavy duty drone works, how much weight drones can carry, and in what kind of situations a heavy lift drone is useful.
How Much Weight Can a Drone Carry?
Heavy lift drones have additional mechanisms that regular drones don’t which allow them to carry loads. The drone a weight can carry is known as the “payload”. The drone payload varies greatly depending on the model you’re using.
The majority of drones are not designed to carry any weight whatsoever. However, you can purchase separate carry and drop mechanisms that can be attached to some popular camera drones, such as the DJI Mavic Mini and the Mavic 2 Pro.
However, these more hobbyist drone attachments are typically only able to hold up to 500g, or even under 100g in some cases. So while they can be used for dropping fishing bait or dramatically delivering a wedding ring to your would-be fiancé, they aren’t classed as heavy duty drones.
Drones that are specifically designed to carry heavy loads can support a lot more weight. Again, it varies greatly from drone to drone, but payloads can range anywhere from 2lb to 45lb. We’ve even listed drones that can carry up to 100lb payloads, although these will set you back tens of thousands of dollars. Naturally, the heavier the payload, the more power required to rotate the drone’s propellers to keep it in the air.
So if you’re looking to buy a heavy duty drone, it’s vital that you work out exactly how much weight you need to carry beforehand, as the higher a drone’s payload, the more it will cost.
Heavy Lift Drones Uses & Applications
There are many different uses for drones that can carry things. For example, even though most drones come equipped with a camera anyway, some photographers still opt for heavy lift drones that can carry their professional cameras to capture higher quality footage.
For example, with a heavy payload drone, you can capture aerial footage with DSLR cameras that would otherwise be impossible.
Another main use of heavy lift drones is to provide supplies during emergencies or search and rescue missions. They can be used to carry things like food, water, and clothing, so a heavy-duty drone can be a potentially life-saving tool in some situations.
Another application is in agriculture. Drones that can carry heavy weights are valuable to farmers for their uses in crop monitoring, and for spraying pesticides. They can also be used to monitor things like soil quality and crop damage if you use a hyperspectral camera.
These are just a few of the many different ways that drones that can be carried things can be used. Essentially, you can use it for whatever purpose you like as long as the drone can support the weight of what you want to transport, so the possibilities are endless.
The Best Heavy Duty Drones – Buyer’s Guide
DJI Inspire 2 – Best Heavy Lift Drone for Affordability
- Price: $3,200 — Available on Amazon here
- Drone payload: 1.79lb
The DJI Inspire 2 can’t carry as large a weight as the drones further down this list, but it’s a consumer-friendly model that’s much more affordable than other heavy duty drones. Plus, it’s one of the finest camera drones on the market, which is a nice plus!
This drone can carry up to 1.79lb of weight, which is a reasonable amount and will be enough for most hobbyists. You can use the drone to carry a range of different things, whether a camera or more practical objects.
While there are drones that can carry a lot more, the DJI Inspire 2 still has a very impressive price/performance ratio. It’s a very powerful heavy lift quadcopter drone, capable of reaching speeds up to 58mph and flying for up to 27 minutes at a time, so you can cover large areas efficiently.
The camera is fantastic, and the DJI Inspire 2 was actually the world’s first drone with a 4K camera, a 360-degree rotating gimbal, and an HD video transmission system, so you can capture stunning footage with fantastic stability.
Another great thing about the Inspire 2 that makes it a great heavy lift drone for beginners is the intelligent flight features that DJI is so well known for. For example, with the ActiveTrack mode the drone can recognize objects like people and cars, while the TapFly mode sees the onboard FPV camera separate the flight view from the main camera view to provide a dedicated TapFly camera.
You can easily control the drone on your smartphone via the DJI app, as well as using the included remote controller. With the app, you can create custom routes which the drone will automatically follow while you focus on capturing footage. It also has an advanced obstacle detection system to help it avoid collisions during flight.
Aurelia X8 Standard – Highly Customizable Heavy Duty Drone
- Price: $4,899.95
- Drone payload: 17lb
Whereas the Inspire 2 is first and foremost a camera drone that can still be used to carry weights, the Aurelia X8 Standard is specifically designed for lifting heavy loads.
This drone is manufactured by UAV Systems, which specializes in heavy lift and fixed wing drones. UAV drones are used by a range of professional and governmental organizations, including the likes of NASA and the US Air Force, so they’re of extremely high quality.
It can carry payloads of up to 17lb, which is a really impressive weight considering this drone’s relatively low price. In fact, this drone has the largest payload lift capability of all UAV Systems models.
This is a very versatile and customizable drone that’s suitable for a wide range of uses. For example, it has an open-source Pixhawk controller which can be optimized for your purpose. It comes with Ardupilot software as standard, but you can also buy it with PX4.
There are over 20 flight modes to choose from for different operations. You can set flight modes, program routes, geofence, and much more using the free Q Ground Control planning software, or you can choose the Mission Planner software for increased functionality.
Another nice feature is that LCD display is positioned on the rear of the drone. This makes it easy to check on the current flight mode, battery levels and GPS positioning for improved usability. There’s also an onboard mini toolkit which means you can easily swap propellers and make repairs while out in the field.
The price we’ve listed is for the standard package, but it can go up depending on the specifications you choose for this custom heavy lift drone. For example, you can upgrade to a Herelink Ground Station transmitter rather than the RadiomasterTX16S one. You can also opt to include the Aurelia Assist software which has a range of useful features, such as a flight simulator for practicing.
Freefly Alta 8 Pro – Extremely Reliable Heavy Duty Drone
- Price: $15,995
- Drone payload: 20lb
Freefly is a leading manufacturer of camera and heavy lift drones for both industry and consumers, and the Freefly Alta 8 Pro is one of its finest models. This is an octocopter heavy payload drone, using eight arms instead of the regular four or six for increased power.
This model is well known as one of the sturdiest and most durable on the market. It’s specifically designed for use in demanding industrial applications and is extremely well made with eight brushless heavy lift drone motors.
The drone itself weighs 13lb and is capable of carrying payloads of up to 20lb. Despite its somewhat hefty size, it folds down for maximum portability.
The Alta 8 Pro has a range of useful features that make it a versatile drone suitable for a range of different purposes. These include a sophisticated altitude hold to help maintain a steady position in the air, as well as a quick-release mechanism for transporting products. It also has precise positioning using GPS, IMU, and barometer data, so you can use it even in extreme weather conditions.
Freefly has put a lot of effort into making sure this heavy duty drone provides optimal usability. For example, the modular battery tray allows you to mount batteries on the top, bottom, or sides of the aircraft and change them in less than one minute. There are also two quick-release mounts so that you can mount payloads on both the bottom and top of the drone, with both isolated from vibration.
Finally, each Alta 8 Pro shipped by Freefly undergoes a rigorous testing process. There are 66 tests carried out in total, including circuit board, system-level, and piloting tests, so you can be sure you’re getting an extremely reliable heavy duty drone when you purchase one of these.
xFold Cinema X12 U7 – Overall Best Heavy Lift Drone
- Price: $23,999
- Drone payload: 45lb
xFold is responsible for creating some of the best heavy duty drone models on the market, with the Cinema X12 U7 being able to carry large weights of up to 35lb. It certainly doesn’t come cheap, but there’s no doubt this is one of the finest models on the market.
Like many other heavy payload drone drones on the market, the Cinema X12 U7 has six arms, each made of carbon fiber to ensure strength and durability. However, there are in fact two motors and propellers attached to each arm, meaning it has the power of 12 rotors. The drone uses xFold’s custom 930kV brushless heavy lift drone motors, so it’s an extremely powerful machine.
Aside from its heavy lift ability, this drone has several other features that help it stand out. These include its impressive usability, largely thanks to the fact that it runs on the highly intuitive DJI A2 controller which guarantees a smooth and intelligent flying experience.
It has a 3 axis gimbal to ensure you can capture stable footage while in flight, and the gimbal supports DSLR cameras. This heavy lift drone also has a Connex zero-latency video transmission system which provides flawless downlink to the seven-inch FPV monitor within a 2km range.
The standard package comes with two 10,000mAh batteries, although the drone is capable of using four at a time for increased flight times. You can also fold the Cinema X12 U7 down so that it’s easy to carry around.
If you are looking for a drone that can handle even more weight than the Cinema X12 U7, then the xFold Dragon X12 U11 is one to check out. This drone will set you back over $31,000, but it has an incredible payload capacity of 100lb.