Different Types of Drones by Construction and Purpose

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Last updatedLast updated: April 08, 2024
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A large variety of drone types out on the market means that there is a drone for every person and need. Drone technology is one of the singular tech advancements that fit such a wide niche of uses. That they offer this, while still maintaining their original purpose as an unmanned air vehicle, is one of their major strong points.

If you have a kid that you want to get attached to the tech world, the best way to do it is by introducing them to drone technology. That is a single example of one of its extensive applications. Many kinds of drones can be easily assembled by kids or teenagers. This is not only fun but does so while introducing them to aeronautic technology. Drones have an inexhaustible range of applications to vertically every aspect of civilization as of today.

What are drones?

Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeDrones are the next generation of unmanned aircraft technology. In formal terms, they are also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or unmanned aerial aircraft systems. In more simplified terms, drones are flying robots. These robots are controlled remotely or through the use of autonomous software which control their flight pattern. The patterns are controlled through installed systems that work hand in hand with the drone sensors and GPS. Over the past years, before the use of drone technology became popular with regular people, they were mostly used for military purposes. For starters, they were used anti-aircraft targeting simulations and for gathering intelligence. The military was further controversially accused of using as weapon systems.

The use of drone technology has grown greatly to a wide range of applications. It ranges from as little as traffic monitoring and aerial photography to more complex activities like conduction of search and rescue operations. They are also useful in conducting search and rescue operations.

Types of drones by construction

In the same way, the application of drone usage is a large variety, is the same way there is a long list of types of drones. Drones are used for several purposes including weather monitoring, surveillance, fire fighting, GPS tracking, and many others. Naturally, the fact that these uses cut across different aspects would imply the drones would need specific fitting. This is what has led to the continuous development of several kinds of drone technology to suit these purposes. Due to their different designs and specification based on their purpose, these different types have been spotted into categories. The categories are based on the flight mechanism, size, and weight, ranges, or purpose. This categorization will help you narrow the drone type you will need to purchase to suit whatever purpose you want.

Multi-rotor helicopter

Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeThe multi-rotor helicopter drones look like actual helicopters and have several rotating blades placed at specific positions. The extra rotating blades aren’t simply a design modification, they also aid the drone in maintaining balance while hovering. These drones also have VTOL operation; which is a system that lets them in a wide range of environments. This is an advantage that is limited to multi-rotor drones. Unlike fixed-wing drones, multi-rotor drones do not require extra space to take off or land. They can do so under any condition. This is among what makes them perfect for professional usage. Their hovering balance makes them excellent for carrying out building inspections. This use applies to structural engineers and building managers. It eliminates the need for physical manpower for reaching high and dangerous parts of the building.

Single-rotor helicopter

Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeThis is one of the simplest types of drones available for purchase in the open market. As is fully implies in the name, the single rotor helicopter drone uses only a single rotor flight mechanism. In some cases, the drone has a tail unit as it has the physical appearance of a helicopter. The single rotor gives them an advantage over the multi-rotor type of drone. The advantage opens them up to more extended flight times. The thing about tech devices with major advantages is the usual high price tag that comes with them. This is also the case with the single rotor helicopter drone. However, research on our part has led us to find the single rotor drone at a reasonable price, in the case of you wanting to purchase one. It serves all the single rotor purposes and comes with great designs for either kids or adult use.


Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeUnlike the common single rotor or multi-rotor drones, These are the types of drones that have fixed wings. Their fixed wings imply that they will require a little room for their takeoff and landing process. This is similar to the operation of an airplane, hence where it got its name. The need for a runway only applies to the large kinds of fixed-wing airplane drones. There are cases where a launcher may be used for the done instead of having to use a runway. In other cases with the smaller kinds of drones, you could simply launch it by throwing it straight into the open air.

Having fixed wings also gives them another advantage of being able to cover long distances at high speed. They also have a large range of coverage, meaning that the operator may be miles away like in the case of military-grade drones.

Powered lift

Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposePowered lift drones are different from most of the other types of drones. They are aircraft that take off vertically, then alternate into fixed-wing flight seamlessly. This kind of drone comes in several different kinds of designs. Ranging from being multi-rotor to fixed-wing and mostly a combination of both. The most popular kind is the one made of both the multi-rotor and the fixed-wing. This is due to the ease the rotors give it to take off with ease. This type of drone is used by the military for carrying out their operations in environments without landing paths. They are also used for commercial purposes in sectors like mining, agriculture, and surveying. The advantage of having a power lift is that it gives you the experience of both the multi-rotor and the fixed-wing kind of drones.


Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeAmong the things that most drones of today lack are endurance and in some cases, safety. The unmanned airship technology provides the solution to both of these problems with ease. The airship drone can fly for as long as 8 hours. It can do this even under the harshest environmental conditions and navigates easily when required to make sharp turns. The airship drone is majorly used in the cities for public announcements or awareness. Its use also cuts across long-range inspection of pipelines and railways, among others. The airship drone also adds more to its advantages by having a long control range of as high as 99 miles. The downside to it is that it is extremely large and as such is usually owned for commercial purposes. It is not something you would randomly get for recreation.

Types of drones by size and weight

The main distinction of this category of drones is by their size and their weight. Different kinds of drones fall into this category and they are as follows:


Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeMicrodrones are seen as a form of recreation for most civilians. However, they can serve multiple extensive purposes when taken into the military application. The use by most people does not exceed having fun. The most common example of this type of drone is the Black hornet, which was produced by the British military. These drones have their name due to their meager size. They generally do not exceed 1” x 4” making them the most ideal tool for spying or surveillance. The Holystone HS120D is a great example of a drone with this capacity. Microdrones were first adopted in 2013 ever since have been used particularly by the military all over the world. The multiple tiny cameras they have made them the perfect intelligence tool. These drones are stored in a special belt when they are not in use. They also have a great battery life span of as high as 25 minutes on a single charge.

Very small

As the name implies, very small drones are miniature. This makes them useful in quite several ways. In the same capacity, it also limits the extent of their use. Very small drones can conveniently reach places that most other types of drones would not be able to. This is an advantage they enjoy primarily because of their miniature size. However, the downside to their size is the lack of battery power. This also implies that they won’t be able to travel long distances for long periods. They also have very good cameras fitted in them. They are usually manufactured with a pre-installed GPS navigation system.


In opposition to the other types of drones running into hundreds of dollars, the small drones are pretty much on the cheap side. As the name implies, small drones are mainly between 20 to 80 inches long. The small drones, due to their size and the further limiting factors are strictly for recreational purposes. Unlike most of the other models which can shuffle between being for commercial or even military use and recreation, this is limited. An example of its limitation is in the ability of a multi-rotor drone being able to take top-quality photos and videos. In the small drone, they usually don’t have the balance and stability needed for taking these photos. Their compact size also limits their battery capacities.

This type of drone makes for great gifts to children or adults as they can also be used for fun activities.


Medium-sized drones are not usually as the name implies. They are mostly larger than the average drone you would see out in the city. This is because they are visibly smaller than light aircraft drones but are large enough to require the strength of two people to move them. The size adds some level of advantage for the vehicle. It implies that they can cover significant distances over a limited period. Their appearance is unique to their size. They have fixed wings as opposed to rotors. This makes them more identical to airplanes and less like the common helicopter type of drone. Because of their size and ability, they usually need to have a significant source of power. Some of them are usually gas-powered. Unlike multiple rotor drones that cannot stay airborne for very long, these types of drones can stay as long as 16 hours in the sky. This makes them the ideal long-range drone.


Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeThis is another one of the military-grade drones. They are the largest of their counterparts being used by the military. They are the furthest thing from being handheld because of their large size which is around 36 feet long. The United States Army makes use of the variants of this type; among which are the predator and the Reaper. Typically, large drones used by the military are of two types:

  • Combat drones
  • Non-combat drones

As the meaning is in the names, combat drones are fitted with powerful weapons which could be used to engage enemies from the sky. The non-combat drones have the size and all the other features of the combat drones but do not have any weapons system. These drones can stay in the sky for as long as 14 hours and can also be operated from miles away. They come in very handy in cases of war or reconnaissance.

Types of drones by the range

The range of a drone determines how far away it can be operated. It also refers to how much ground the drone is able to cover.


Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeClose range, as the name implies are drones that have to be in some measure of proximity to where they are being operated. They mostly have a range of around 3 miles. They also have the ability to stay in the air for a period of 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the make of the close-range drone. This is one of the most common kinds of drones available to consumers. They can be used for recreational purposes and for young people to play with.


Short-range drones take the range a notch higher than the close range. Even though the name implies that the range is short, this is not the case as they can give you quite a high range number. Short-range drones can be operated from as far as 30 miles away. They also have good battery builds on them making them able to stay in the sky for between 1 to 6 hours at a time.


Mid-range drones are by far different from short-range drones. They are mostly bigger than them and can be operated from up to 90 miles away from the aircraft itself. They can also stay in the air for as long as 12 hours. This drone type is majorly used by the military for several purposes like search and rescue missions or in some cases for surveillance.


Long-range drones are at the top of this category. They are mostly not available to civilians as they are the biggest type of drones and used only by the military. These drones can last in the sky for as long as a complete day. They usually require major power sources and some of them use gas. This is why they can spend that long at high altitudes. They can also be operated from as far as 1.87 miles away.

Types of drones by purpose

The purpose of the drone justifies its manufacture. These types of drones are categorized according to the use to which they are best served.


Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeMilitary drones are the earliest in drone technology. The first development of drones was strictly for military purposes before they were open to civilians over the years. Military drones serve a number of different purposes and as a result, they are of different kinds. The initial application was majorly for surveillance and spying. However, their military uses expanded more and more over the years.

Today, military drones are used for reconnaissance, search and rescue operations, deployment of weapons.

Their remote piloting nature saves the military the risk of sending human pilots on dangerous missions. Now, the military trains its staff for the singular purpose of remote drone operations. This has saved the military a lot of money because they spend less on the air crafts, as drones cost significantly less. Also, the size of the drones allows them to spy undetected and gather valuable data from around the globe.

Aerial photography

Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeOne of the major functions of drone technology is to take pictures or record videos and then convert the data into information. Most of the types of drones have limited photography abilities either by their camera and other factors. This is why there exist specialized types of drones strictly for taking pictures. If you have plans of taking professional photographs, you will probably need a commercial drone that strictly serves that purpose. As was stated above, taking photos with drones requires an amount of stability on the part of the drone. This is why for photographic use, you will need a drone with multiple rotors. The next part is to fit your drone with a high-resolution camera. However, there are multiple rotor drones that come with 4K cameras to serve this specific purpose. A drone that serves this purpose and more is the DJI Mini 2 Drone. It has the ability to cover large areas while shooting videos at HD 720 p. The stability and many automated modes the drone offers are bound to get you that perfect shot.

Product delivery

Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeProduct delivery drones are one of the many types of professional drones. Their uses are not completely limited, but they primarily work to attain the goal for which they are created. They are usually designed as multi-rotor drones, implying that they have incredible balance. Product delivery drones have become more popular with the advancement of technology all over the world. Their applications are majorly for the delivery of goods and services purchased by people. In most cases, these purchases are made over virtual stores. The goods are then sent through the drone to the delivery address. The drones take the purchased items to the house or apartment of the buyer. They are extremely useful as they save time and overall transportation costs that would have been incurred by both the store and the individual. This type of drone may also be useful in serving other purposes like recreation or aerial photography.


Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeAgricultural drones are one of the commercial aspects where drone technology has made life incredibly comfortable for the people involved. Initially, farmers have to cover a large distance physically to check on the state of their crops. The use of drone technology has nullified the need for physically checking on crops. Agricultural drones are fitted with state-of-the-art technology that makes the entire farming process significantly easier. Agricultural drones are usually fitted with multispectral cameras. They use this technology in mapping out the entire farm in a matter of minutes. Other applications of this technology include extensive field and crop monitoring, fishing, seed planting, and cattle surveillance. An example of a perfect drone for this purpose is the DJI Mavic Pro 4K Quadcopter Drone. The introduction of drones has helped agronomists, crop insurers, farmers and researchers save several hours at a time.

The drones used here are usually multi-rotor drones because of the use of a camera, which requires balance and stability.

Surveillance and policing

Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeThe prospects available to the growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles have raised growing distress for lawmakers. This is due to the extensive abilities that the use of drones gives people. Surveillance can be defined as the watching of a person, a group of people, or activities. This is usually done without the knowledge of the party being watched. The traditional mode of surveillance being used in the past involved the physical operation of the camera and the use of choppers. These have been known to be suboptimal due to the high cost involved in the process. The use of drones completely removes this problem. The military can surveil entire civilizations from miles away without the party being surveilled to be aware. The drones are not only able to observe undetected, but they are also able to navigate under difficult conditions. They are able to cover large expanses of land in a short period by limiting the number of manpower used and by extension, the cost.

GPS drones

These are among the list of specialized drones. They fall in this category because of the special nature of their use, specifically for GPS purposes. The operation of this type of drone is mainly by linking up to a satellite system through the GPS installed on it. They further use this to map out the entirety of their flight schedule. By this means, they create data that could then be used for whatever purpose you would like. An example of the application of this technology is for mapping out large masses of land. As is expected, this goes with a lot of battery use. As such, these drones automatically return back to the base when they are running low on battery power. The advancement in the technology installed in these drones makes them one of the most useful kinds for both military and professional applications.

The use of drones with GPS systems cuts across all levels, ranging from photo and videography to military applications.

Drone racing

Different Types of Drones by Construction and PurposeYoung people have a history of pushing technology to their limits. This is why street racing has gained vast popularity all over the world. Drone technology is no exception to this reality. This is in fact one of the most common recreational use of drone technology among regular people. The drone industry has further harnessed this extensive use to their advantage by creating a drone specifically for this purpose. Racing drones are incredibly fast compared to their other counterparts. They are able to reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. However, the downside to this is that they do not enjoy the same long battery life as the other types of drones available. Some individuals also build these drones from scratch on their own with the goal of helping them reach even higher speeds. They are also available for sale if you’re not able to build one.

Final thoughts

The adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles is growing daily all over the world. They have proven to be a major technological advancement and have been solving major commercial and military problems. Although there are cases of reservations about the openness of its use to civilians, as it should be purely for military application. However, it has proven to be more than useful in the agricultural, educational and recreational sectors of the economy. The technology is not stagnant as new discoveries and improvements on it are being made constantly. New sectors of its application are not being left out of this growth.

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