Each type of drones works in a specific manner to help users complete specific tasks. In this review, we look at the top search and rescue drones that can be utilized for search missions. We review five drones by looking at the features that make each unique.
5 Best Search and Rescue Drones
5. Matrice 200
Matrice 200 is a search and rescue drone designed and built to be foldable to offer convenience when traveling. Moreover, it can be disassembled and assembled within minutes.
It features 17-inch quad propellers that make it ideal for the harsh climatic and terrain conditions that are common in search missions. Its chassis is made from sturdy materials that allow it to operate smoothly even in the most unfavorable conditions.
Matrice 200 is designed with two functional cameras and an extra FPV camera that is built-in. It also comes with extra cargo space and ports for easy optimization in case one needs to upgrade it.
This drone also comes with a host of features that include gimbal actuators, a GPS unit, barometers, and an integrated compass among other features. It has external sensors that enhance accuracy and enable reliable data collection as well as providing stability in harsh conditions.
When it comes to battery and flight time, Matrice 200 flies for up to 20 minutes before the low battery signal comes in. With upgraded batteries, this drone can also fly for up to 40 minutes. This makes it one of the best search and rescue drones that one can get in the market today.
- Long flight time
- Supports many cameras
- External sensors for obstacle detection
- Supports dual-operator control
- Not able to mount downward and upward facing cameras simultaneously
- High-capacity batteries are cumbersome to transport
4. Matrice 210
Matrice 210 is a rugged and adaptive drone that is built to withstand harsh flying conditions. Its body is classified in IP43 for weather and water resistance, something that makes it ideal for search and rescue missions regardless of the weather conditions. Its chassis is tough and lightweight, which means that its delicate camera and other inner elements are protected during crashing or when sprayed with water.
It features a dual battery space for holding a maximum of two batteries. It operates on either TB50 or TB55 and can last for up to 38 minutes of non-stop flight. It comes with intelligent flight modes that allow auto-piloting, thus allowing you to focus your attention on capturing everything that matters. What’s more, its Active track ensures that it maintains a moving subject within the frame for a perfect shot. This feature makes the drone ideal for search and rescue mission or tracking wildlife.
Matrice 210 also comes with extra features such as the professional-grade Cendence controller, two rechargeable batteries and charging hub, a 16GB memory card, a carrying case, and an external GPS kit. What more would you want in a drone?
- Weather and water resistance
- Long flight time
- Supports autopilot
- Lightweight for better flying and transport
- Supports fewer cameras
3. Inspire 2
Inspire 2 is a high-end drone designed and fitted with excellent features that make it stand out from its competitors. It comes with a dual battery setup, something that gives it a number of benefits. Apart from delivering more flight time, it also provides the drone with enough power to run auxiliary systems like sensors, processors, stabilizers, and cameras.
Inspire 2 comes with a detachable Zenmuse camera that is easy to upgrade. In addition to this camera, it also has a forward facing FPV camera that allows you to maintain the drone on a clear forward flight. It also comes fitted with dual barometers, dual inertia motion sensors, as well as dedicated processors.
It comes with an improved battery life that is rated at 27 minutes per charge. However, if features like cameras, sensors, and trackers use the same power, the flight time will reduce considerably. The best thing about Inspire 2 is that it doesn’t crash when the battery runs out. Instead, it makes an emergency landing when the low battery signal comes in.
It features a great flight performance that is more stable and more reliable as compared to most of its competitors. Despite its weight and slower acceleration abilities, once it gets to top speed, everything else is left in the dust.
- Has an improved GPS system
- In-built batteries
- Excellent sensor update
- Extended camera range
- Lacks backward compatibility
- Expensive spare remote
- It is expensive
2. Phantom 4 RTK Drone
Phantom 4 RTK Drone is designed specially to deliver precise mapping that is useful for construction sites, surveying, and inspection. It has the same precision that is needed for search and rescue missions. The drone comes equipped with an RTK receiver and an inbuilt GNSS module to attain a 1cm+1ppm RTK horizontal and a 1.5cm+1ppm RTK vertical positioning precision. Additionally, the DJI’s TimeSync system and the gimbal camera’s calibration process attain the same accuracy.
Phantom 4 RTK drone also comes with a controller that is meant for industrial users. It comes pre-loaded with a GS TRK App, a microSD card hub, an inbuilt speaker, and exchangeable batteries. You can connect the controller to the internet for Network RTK or 4G dongle – optional.
It also comes with an onboard camera that has top of the range specs such as a 1-inch 20-MP CMOS sensor. It comes fitted with a customized lens that is made up of 8 elements that are arranged in seven groups. The camera boasts of a mechanical aperture that does away with rolling shutter distortion, which often happens when taking images of a subject in motion or when flying at a high speed and the mechanical focus.
It comes with a highly integrated remote controller with a Lightbridge HD video transmission system that adds a 5.8GHz transmission support. It offers an option of choosing either 2.4GHz or 5.8GHz, a choice that will allow you to cut through interference and eliminate image lag.
Other top features that come with Phantom 4 RTK include an intelligent battery system, Active Track, obstacle sensors, TapFly, and Lightbridge HD video link among others.
- High-quality and accurate image system
- Easy flight control and intelligent execution
- Foldable, compact, and portable
- Enhanced transmission with less interference
- Ideal for search and rescue
- A bit heavy
1. DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual Drone
Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual drone comes with a three-axis gimbal stabilized camera that houses a side-by-side 4K sensor. The 4K high-resolution sensor is used for capturing visible light while the FLIR imaging sensor is for capturing thermal data. These sensors work as a unit to allow you to perform night flights as well as fly in harsh conditions, such as through smoke and fog. This capability makes Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual ideal for most search and rescue missions.
This drone from Mavic is compatible with all the Mavic 2 Enterprise accessories that include a speaker, a spotlight, and a Beacon. Just like its counterpart – Mavic 2 Enterprise, it comes with extra features like GPS Timestamping, DJI AirSense, Data Security, and Ocusync 2.0 among other features.
It also comes with clear and enhanced visions thanks to the Isotherms that help it get precise heat measurements on different subjects and scenarios. Moreover, it is foldable into a package slim enough to carry to wherever duty calls.
The fact that this drone features self-healing batteries, especially in adverse environments makes it ideal for search and rescue even in sub-zero temperatures.
- Foldable, compact, and portable
- Highly optimized performance
- Long flight time
- Refined imaging for tactical and practical use
- Does not support dynamic zoom
- No quick track
How to choose the Best Search and Rescue Drone
When it comes to choosing the best drone for your needs, bear in mind that different drones will give different results and experiences. Just like many other products in the market place, drones too come in a range of varieties. As such, you need to make due diligence before choosing the best drone for your search and rescue needs.
The first question you need to answer is why you need a search and rescue drone and how you intend to use it. If you intend to use it at your backyard to take pictures of your kids playing, birds singing, and other related activities, you won’t have to buy a drone that requires you to break your bank. If you intend to use it for serious search and rescues missions, videography, or photography, however, you need to invest in a great drone. This will ensure you get optimal returns from your investment.
Drones are designed with a certain flying range depending on their use. When buying a search and rescue drone, therefore, ensure that it comes with a wide range of operations to cover a large area at a time. This will allow you to search a vast area without having to leave your secure place.
Even though the weight of a drone doesn’t really affect how it flies, it is important to consider a lightweight model since it will give you an easier time when moving from one place to another or for easy storage. If you are carrying a heavy drone with a bunch of other useful stuff, you won’t benefit fully from your drone.
- Power Source
If you plan to use your drone for a length of time in search and rescue activities, you will require getting a model with a long-life battery pack. Some drones use the standard alkaline batteries while others use a built-in battery that is rechargeable. A rechargeable battery pack might be ideal considering the amount of money you might have to use on alkaline batteries.
- Remote Control
Drones come with a remote control that enables you to direct and control them when flying. Some of these drones come with features like a military-grade GPS system, smartphone apps, and zoom in and out functions while controlling the camera or video with ease. It is advisable to buy a drone with a versatile remote control that offers ease of control.
- Extras and Add-ons
Some drone models come with additional features that allow you to get a better flying experience. Some are able to accommodate two or more cameras with the ability to link with your smartphone. Others come with shoulder straps, thus allowing you to take it along when hiking through the mountains so you can release it when at the top. Whichever search and rescue drone you feel is right for your needs, make sure it comes with extras that can help you get more out of your drone.
- Flight time
Different drones come with different flight time; some will come with 4 minutes while others can offer over 20 minutes of flight. A search and rescue drone should have a long flight time since it might be required to fly for a long time during missions.
Even though this should be the last thing to consider, it is important to make comparisons among the drone models that come with the features and specs you have in mind. Settle for a model that is within your budget but with the right features for your needs.
Identifying a top search and rescue drone is certainly not an easy task. Knowing the right things to look out for, however, can make the task as easy as picking one from the store. In this review, we have discussed 5 of the best search and rescue drones that you will find in the market. Each of these drones is ideal for search and rescue missions but we can’t walk away without announcing a clear winner from our list.
After considering all the features that the drones come with, our clear winner is Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual. Unlike its competitors, this drone comes with excellent features such as a long flight time courtesy of self-healing batteries, enhanced imaging and vision, in-built controls under your care, being foldable and compact to enhance portability, in-flight safety that ensures you take off and land safely, and most importantly, an M2E spotlight to enhance vision in the lowly lit areas of your mission.