Drones You Can Buy in India and How They Are Classified

It’s official now! The Indian government has given the green flag for commercial operations of drones in India, which means you can finally fly drones in the country. Legally! Not that the process is going to be easy though.

This move has spiked a lot of interest among consumers who earlier could not even think of buying drones in India due to the regulations. But, with the official declaration, one can expect drone sales (especially the smaller or nano drones) to hit a new high.

But, before you take your spot on the couch and head online to search for a drone to buy, I think it would be better for you to understand what kind of drone is best suited for you and which ones you can fly in India legally.

There are different kinds of drones in terms of the number of propellers they have, how much they weigh and also the kind of features they have. So, we'll divide our drones into three categories for you to understand them better.

  1. How much they weigh?
  2. How many propellers they have?
  3. What flight range do they offer?

Since Indian regulations categorise drones by weight, let’s start with that.

How Much Do They Weigh?

Drones just like everything else come in different sizes. From something small enough to fit into your pocket to the large ones that the military uses to reach inaccessible locations or sometimes even to spy or bomb a place.

Nano/Mini Drones

This is the smallest category of drones you will see. Many are small enough to easily fit in your palm. These drones weigh 250 grams or less (including the payload) and are usually the ones preferred by consumers all over the world. These usually carry a camera on board and are among the most widely manufactured.

Mini drones can weigh up to 250 grams.

The maximum height to which a nano drone can go is 35 meters, but it also depends on the brand as well. There are many Chinese manufacturers who make and sell nano drones in India via online shopping portals.

These aren’t that expensive and can be bought for as cheap as Rs 1,500. Those toy helicopters you get also qualify as nano drones. One of the most famous mini drones in the market is the DJI Tello, which can be purchased online for Rs 12,000 approx.

To fly a nano drone, you don’t need any permissions or special licence.

According to the recently released regulations by The Office of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which state the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) for the operation of civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) or more commonly known as drones, any drone less than 250 grams or nano drones don’t need any licence to operate. So, you can buy one now and fly it even after 1 December 2018, when the drone regulations come into effect. All other types of drones will need permissions before they can be used.

Micro Drones

A DHL micro drone.

This is another category that is slowly catching up in the market. Micro drones weigh anywhere between 250 grams to 2 Kg and are usually used for multimedia purposes.

They have a flight altitude of about 200 meters and can be manoeuvred quite easily. To fly one of these, you have to inform the local police station 24 hours earlier. Also these need to be registered.

Small Drones

Small drones too are hot property outside primarily due to the heavy payload they can carry. Most of the professional film makers use this kind of a drone.

The DJI Phantom 4.

A small drone can theoretically reach a height of up to 400 feet. In terms of size, they can start at 2 metres and can be bigger than that depending on how many propellers have been installed.

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro, DJI Mavic Pro are some high-end drones, which can cost over Rs 1 lakh in India, but there are other brands options in the market like the Parrot Bebop 2 or even the Xiaomi Mi drone which can be purchased for under Rs 50,000.

Medium Drones

Medium size drones can weigh up to 150 Kg and start at about 25 Kg. These kind of drones are rare to find with generic consumers and usually end up being used by the government for defense purposes or the entertainment and movie making industry.

A medium drone can easily go over the proximity of 6,000 feet although it is very difficult to operate.

Large Drones

This segment houses some of the biggest drones you’ll see in the sky. Anything more than 150 Kg in weight falls in this category and many of these drones are fixed winged drones and do not carry rotors.

Drone firing a missile.

You must have seen surveillance drones in many Hollywood movies, which look like fighter jets. Large drones are the same. Forget buying one and keeping it at home because neither are they portable nor easy to operate. These are mainly used by defence forces.

How Many Propellers They Have?

Propellers or rotors are the heart and soul of a drone. These blades work just like a helicopter’s propellers and give flight to the machine, help it manoeuvre and keep it in the air till it runs out of battery power. There are multiple types of rotors that come with the package. These are:

  1. Single rotor: Helicopter
  2. Tricoptor: Three rotor
  3. Quadcoptor: Four roto
  4. Hexacoptor: Six rotor
  5. Octacoptor: Eight rotor
Different types of drone categories. 

Although, a drone can fly with a single rotor, the extra propellers help gain more elevation, distance and also help with better balance of the machine.

The manufacturers can play around with the design as they want, depending on the application they are being put to. Most hobby drones are quadcopters.

What Range Do Drones Offer?

Drones can also be categorised based on the distance they can fly.

  1. Very close range: 500 metres or 20 minutes in the air.
  2. Close range: Up to 6 kilometers or 6 hours in the air.
  3. Short range: Up to 50 kilometers or 12 hours in the air.
  4. Mid-range: Up to 650 kilometers or 12 hours in the air.

What Features/Equipment Do They Come With?

There’s a reason that drone is up in the air right? Most of the commercial drones are used for photography and capturing videos, which is why they come bundled with a set of instruments and sensors that help with navigating the drones.

Most common equipment you’ll find on-board a drone is a camera. High-end drones like the new DJI Mavic Pro comes with a Hasselblad camera on it while the DJI Phantom 4 Pro camera can shoot 4K 60fps videos and 20-megapixel stills.

While there are some surveillance drones, which come equipped with GPS, there are others that offer technology such as stabilisers to help in capturing stable videos.

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