Small UAVs come in all shapes and sizes with models varying by application. Here are a few of the designs you’re likely to see overhead sometime soon.
Multicopters are the most well-known and most popular. This DJI Phantom series quadcopter is a best-seller for applications that require aerial photography.
This 3DR Robotic Solo is a good pick for construction sites and other inspections.
Generally the more rotors a copter has, the greater its lifting capabilities. Having more rotors also offers a redundant safety measure in the event that one of them fails. The trade-off, of course, is that they eat battery life more quickly. Fixed-wing designs have a greater range and don’t use battery life as vigorously as multicopters. They’re popular for mapping applications or places where precise maneuverability isn’t a priority. This one’s a recreational model: a Parrot Disco.
Amazon turned some heads this year with the announcement of their Amazon Prime Air service. Here are two prototype designs that may be landing on your doorstep soon: an octocopter and a hybrid that’s somewhere between a fixed-wing and a multicopter.