When we talk about payloads we mean and cameras or sensory equipment that is added to your drone. In fact the full definition of a payload in the dictionary is.
‘the part of a vehicle’s load, especially an aircraft’s, from which revenue is derived; passengers and cargo.’
• equipment, personnel, or satellites carried by a spacecraft
Some drones come with their payload permanently attached straight from the factory, popular models include drones such as the DJI Mavic & Phantom. These are still able to offer great stills and videos often shot in 4K and can be perfect starter drone for photography.
But what about if you’re are looking at doing some laser mapping or want to swap out your standard camera for a thermal imaging camera or perhaps you are involved in a production where the director wants to shoot using the best cameras. This is where drones with detachable payloads are often used marrying the best drone airframe with the right payload.
There are many different platforms which can now carry multiple payloads including the DJI Inspire series, Matrice series and the heavier lift drones like the DJI S1000 and Freefly Alta.
Now we know which drones can carry the payloads let’s take a look at the different payloads they are carrying:
DJI Zenmuse X7S
Price from €2,999 excluding lens
The Zenmuse X7 camera is designed for high-end aerial filmmaking and is a competitively priced piece of kit for what you get. With the option of interchangeable lenses you really should be able to create great imagery capturing exactly what you want. But these do start at a minimum of €1,499 and there are 4 different ones to choose from or grab them all from €4,899.
DJI/FLIR Zenmuse XT Theramal camera
Price from €7,500 depending on lens
This has been designed with the help of FLIR who are a world leader in thermal imaging cameras. Thermal imaging cameras aren’t cheap to make still so the prices are starting to creep above the cost of the airframe. However thermal cameras a great for specific jobs and once connected with a drone are great for capturing fire hotspots helping firefighters, heat sourcing humans in search and rescue missions or spotting failure in solar panel farms.
ALEXA Mini camera
Price from approx. €32,000
The ALEXA mini was designed to be mobile and used with such devices like a drone to create a top of the range filming and watching experience. The weights of these require a larger drone so these will typically be connect to something like an S1000. As with the previous cameras the lens and accessories will determine the eventual cost but these can cost upwards of €60,000 so if it was damaged this could be a hefty loss to the production so looking at payload insurance may be a good idea.
Price from approx. €50,000
With drones being used by surveyors for photogrammetry and mapping sticking a LIDAR onto a drone was the next logical step to take. This has been done using planes for a while but with drone technology now where it is all the stars have aligned. The only problem being the cost of replacing a scanner is astronomical dependant on which manufacturer is being used, so sticking them up in the air on a robot could be a risky idea without having the right risk management in place.
Does a payload make any difference to a drone?
Different drones are able to carry different payload and this all needs to be taken into consideration. One of the main things to consider is the weight and size of the payload and how this can have an effect on the lifting ability of the drone.
For example a smaller drone would struggle to carry a heavier or larger (size wise) payload. This is fine though as we can just use a bigger drone, but bigger means heavier which now creates a problem with the batteries using more power reducing the flight time – you see where I’m going with this.
It’s a bit like a car. You want to go faster or take more people – it’s less economical.
Different platforms can be used for such things though including fixed wing drones which are a lot more economical than a multi rotor. LIDAR scanners have been fitted to manufacturers including UAVE, Terra Hawk and Phoenix.
Do you insure these types of payloads?
We are able to insure anything from your smaller drone with a fixed payload to larger specimens carrying payloads which far exceed the cost of the drone itself.
We try to be really flexible and understand your specific needs as a commercial drone operator and are able to look at all types of different options from owned equipment to equipment which is hired short term.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you create the right policy for you please get in touch.