UAV Types: How to Choose Yours?


For awhile now drones have been in a spotlight when talking about the nearest future innovations. No wonder why, when there are so many different possibilities of their application. Starting from aerial surveillance and inspection operations or acrobatic aerial footage in filmmaking, UAVs are also used in such unexpected applications as wildlife counting, fishing, hurricane hunting or even for chasing down criminals. Looking to the future, it is probably only a small part of where they could be used in practice.

So if you are interested in those little flying machines and hoping to engage in this industry as operator, you may ask yourself, which type of drone should I choose for a certain operation? And what are the differences between those types? So let’s find out.

Some of you might already know, some of you might not, but there are three major types of drones for civilian use. They are classified according to their construction: different elements or their quantity, which condition a different major lift of the device. Let’s look over those three types.


This type of UAV consists of a fixed wing which surface generates the major lift of the drone. Due to that rigid wing the unmanned aircraft have natural gliding capabilities and are more forgiving in the air if facing piloting or technical errors. Fixed-wing aircraft are also able to carry more equipment or weight for longer distances on less power.

These features determine that fixed-wing UAVs are perfectly applicable in package delivery services as well as in longer missions. However, to perform a precision mission, you should look for another type of drone. Due to the air moving over their wings to generate lift, they can’t hover in one spot and as a result cannot provide the precise camera positioning.


Rotary-wing UAV is an unmanned aircraft with means of propulsion which derives the whole or a substantial part of its lift from a rotary wing system. You won‘t be wrong saying it looks like a small version of a helicopter as it has only one rotor.

The best quality of this type is the ability for takeoff and land vertically, which allows the user to operate within a smaller space. The capacity to hover and perform maneuvering makes rotary-wing UAVs well suited to such applications like inspections, where precision maneuvering is necessary to the operation. It could be inspection of railroads, pipelines, power lines, bridges and many more. On the other hand, this type of drones requires longer and more complicated maintenance and repair processes.


These UAVs consist of several rotor blades that revolve around a fixed mast. These drones could come in wide range of setups:

  • 3 rotors (tricopter)
  • 4 rotors (quadcopter)
  • 6 rotors (hexacopter)
  • 8 rotors (octocopter)

And that is not the end – there are also more unusual setups like 12 or 16 rotors.

Multi-rotor UAVs have the same qualities as rotary-wings, but they are even more stable and easier to control. That means they come in use in an accurate and precise missions. These drones are perfect for filming, aerial mapping or infrastructure monitoring. But note the fact that multi-rotors usually have short flight time and ranges, so you might need additional flights to fully complete the operation.

In conclusion, the key factor when choosing between these three drone types is the application to which drone is selected. Each application requires different type of operations, which also means – a different type of drone. You should know: do you need the ability of speed and distance, or do you need precision and stability.

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