In the beginning, unmanned aerial vehicles existed only in science fiction. Then they became a controversial arm in the modern military. Today, the full range of drones for sale to the public offers peaceful uses for entertainment, aerial photography and commercial mapping and exploration. The revolution of the drone has been quick, and the devices have flourished for hobbyists and entrepreneurs a like.
Drone technology has come a long way since it became available to consumers, to the point where drones are both affordable and highly functional. Why not net yourself one of your own? These awesome bots are basically a tech lover’s dream; the natural evolution of the remote-controlled airplane. If you’ve got the money, why not take to the sky in one of them? Here’s a little list to get you started – five of the best aerial drones for sale this summer. If you’re looking for a summer hobby, you might have just found it.
The Parrot AR Drone 2.0
The AR Drone 2.0 was the first aerial consumer robot in the world; it’s made the list because it’s still one of the best drones for sale after over 24 months on the market. This four-prop flier is equipped with both an HD camera and a wide-angle lens, allowing aviation enthusiasts to fly around to their heart’s content. It’s incredibly easy to control, as well – all that’s necessary is to tilt the interface, and the drone will go where you want it to. Not only that, there’s a whole host of awesome mods and hacks for the device, including one that turns it into a robotic pet that will happily follow you around.
The AR Drone 2.0 has two primary weaknesses: the indoor hull’s Styrofoam hoops are a little weaker than they should be, while the lack of a ground-facing camera means you won’t have as much visual freedom as you might like. Still, these two flaws are minimal, when considered against how strong an offering Parrot’s device presents. In total, the AR Drone 2.0 makes for an ideal introduction to aerial drone technology, and is one of the most accessible drones for sale today that we could find.
The Drone Dudes Aerial Cinema Systems
From the basic AR Drone to the highly advanced, the OctoCopter Cinema System is a beast of an aerial drone. This quadcopter robot is created by an organization known as the Drone Dudes, who build their drones for a very simple purpose: aerial film-making. They’re basically a set of high-quality cameras built into compact, powerful UAVS. The Novocopter Cinema System is designed around Radiant Images’ Novo Camera, complete with a number of different interchangeable lenses and equipped with “more cinematic qualities than any other aircraft in-class.” The Octocopter, meanwhile, is designed to be outfitted with pretty much any camera system you might desire. It can lift payloads of up to twelve pounds, and comes complete with iris/focus control. It’s outfitted by default with a CF Red Dragon. On the long list of drones for sale today, the OctoCopter is on the high end, but the components alone of this one make it clear that it isn’t for the basic hobbyist.
The DJI Phantom 2
The DJI Phantom 2 is arguably the most popular aerial drone for sale amongst video-minded enthusiasts. It can also one of the most expensive if you want to unlock its full potential. In order to gain access to its astonishing aerial videography capacity, for example, you’ll need to purchase a camera gimbal for stable footage. The Phantom 2 also requires a DJI Lightbridge, iOSD mini or iOSD MK II video downlink/monitor. Once you’re equipped with all of those, though? You’re golden.
The Phantom 2 not only lets you experience your flight path on a nearly first-hand basis through its high-quality cameras, but also lets you program your flight path using an iPad equipped with the 16-waypoint Ground Station system. Ever want to automate an aerial photoshoot? The Phantom 2 will let you do just that.
It won’t be cheap, though – it retails for either $959 or $679 before you start to add goodies. Still, amongst the crop of drones for sale in stores, it’s arguably the best buy there is.
The Lehmann LA100
Next up, we’ve got the Lehmann LA100. Billing itself as the world’s first aircraft for users without a piloting background, the LA100 is a fully autonomous UAV. Even better, it comes complete with an application that allows you to program its flight path and altitude from a list of suggested options. Simply open up the app, program the drone, and send it off into the air. Unfortunately, flights are limited to five minutes for safety purposes, so don’t be expecting to send this one too far afield.
The whole system is designed for the GoPro camera, which can be mounted either on top of the wing or at the bottom of the wing (for either oblique or vertical images). Users can also choose to launch their LA100 equipped with two cameras at once. It comes in three basic models: The full kit for the LA100 will cost you around $990.00. An LA200 model, meanwhile, runs at $2,490.00; the LA300 (designed for long-range missions) is even pricier, at nearly four grand. There’s also the LM450 and LP960, which retail at $5900 and $6990 respectively. The basic LA100 is clearly targeted toward common uses like us, but the higher end drones for sale from Lehmann are obviously for commercial specialists.
Featured in a number of publications including GigaOm, VentureBeat, and Bloomberg; The FlexBot is a simple and inexpensive aerial drone which can be piloted with a smartphone or tablet. The drone links up to the mobile device and imitates its movement, using the gravity sensors to control its flight path and direction. Although it doesn’t come equipped with a camera, one can be easily attached to the FlexBot in order to take aerial photos and video; a pair of FPV glasses included with the FlexBot Spy Kit allows users to quite literally look through the eyes of their drone.
It’s also highly customizable, and its 3D-printed nature means that aspiring designers can actually cobble together their own shells for the bot. On top of that, the software is open-source, meaning that anyone with the knowledge can easily program (or reprogram) FlexBot for a wide variety of tasks. It’s Arduino compatible, too. The Flexbot comes in three basic models; a $49 kit, a $69 kit, and a $159 kit. In terms of this quite varied list of drones for sale now, the Flexbot is the most cost-accessible.
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There was a time when unmanned drones were strictly designed for military operations; something which inspired no small amount of controversy. Those days are long behind us. Today, drones are used for everything from product delivery to disaster relief right down to consumer photography and experimentation. Try picking up one of these awesome drones for yourself this Summer, and give it a whirl in the sky – you won’t be disappointed. Want to see more? Check out our earlier exploration of 7 High Tech Drones for Sale Today, including a few of these and some rare and unusual drones you may not find at the hobby store.