UAV and drone companies are making WAVES in the industry.
They’re innovating new technology, providing drone training programs, and coming up with new ways to use drones in society.
To highlight some of these businesses, we decided to put together a list of 70 drone companies to follow in 2016.
While these certainly aren’t all of the best companies in the space, we tried to include as many as we could to capture the full range of businesses making an impact on the industry and how we interact with these machines.
Whether you’re looking for drone companies to invest in or you’re a consumer/commercial pilot, these are some of the top UAV companies out there.
Make sure to bookmark this page if you’re doing industry research
For easy navigation, we tried to categorize them based on their core offering. Use the following links to jump to each type of company:
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Skycatch’s mission is to “capture the world’s data and create visual intelligence to help people operate faster, safer, and smarter than ever before.” They provide actionable data using UAVs to help construction managers and engineers fine tune their operations. They’ve also developed a drone for aerial imaging and software to analyze the data.
Redbird is a UAV operator providing 3D modeling and data analysis. They’ve developed a wide range of products that combine different kinds of UAVs, sensors and data processing chains to gather data people can use to make strategic decisions about their worksites (i.e. construction areas, quarries, power lines, etc).
Pix4D provides unmanned aerial vehicle image processing software. Their desktop software is a complete mapping and modeling solution that automatically converts your aerial images into 2D mosaics and 3D models.
The Kansas City Drone Company offers state of the art aerial mapping, still photos, and videos. Their 2D precision maps are great for farmers, civil engineers, insurance adjusters, search and rescue teams, and conservation efforts. Their 3D maps can be used by corporate personnel for presentations, police to recreate crime scenes and accidents, and survey teams to calculate earth/rock removal operations.
The Dutch Drone Company is one of the few companies in Holland that are 100% certified to operate drones. They offer mapping and surveying services, amongst a host of other aerial photo and video applications.
With FAA approval to fly 324 drones for business purposes, Measure was founded to help businesses avoid the operating risk and capital expense associated with running one’s own internal drone operations. They offer cost-effective mapping and aerial imaging solutions for customers World-wide.
PrecisionHawk’s mission is to “build the airspace platform delivering better answers, faster while enabling safe, low altitude flight.” They provide user-friendly data collection tools to collect and process high-quality data. PrecisionHawk offers everything from data processing to 3D terrain mapping.
Kespry manufactures drones made specifically for capturing, viewing, and analyzing aerial imagery and survey data. Their customers include aggregates, mining, construction and surveying companies.
Image in Flight offers site surveying services, among a host of other drone applications. They’re currently providing aerial images and videos of the new Sacramento Kings basketball stadium to help construction crews plan and monitor their work.
SilverHawk Aerial Imaging is a drone company offering visual data, multispectral data, 3D modeling, infrastructure inspecting, and asset monitoring. Check out this cool testimonial from their work with the Survivor Man television show.
Blue Chip Unmanned Aerial Solutions was founded by veterans of the military armed forces with 45+ years of military service. Their aerial imaging applications include photogrammetry, inspection, cinema, and NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index).
Amazon is not only one of the premier online drone retailers, they’re also attempting to roll out a drone delivery system — Amazon Prime Air. It’s designed to ” safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles.” It will take some time to get regulatory clearance, but you can check out prototypes of their delivery drones here.
Flirtey is the first approved delivery drone company. Right now, they’re testing with companies mainly in New Zealand and on a case-by-case basis in other countries, depending on aviation regulations. Flirtey is interested in working with companies in time-sensitive last mile logistics; including online retail, fast food, letters and parcels, urgent medical delivery, etc.
SkyFund is a venture capital firm that invests in drone startup companies. They’re backed by DJI and Accel, and fund UAV entrepreneurs across a variety of application, hardware, peripheral and services categories.
Commercial Drone Fund invests in companies that want financing to help advance their drone technology and grow their business. They invest in sensor hardware, software applications, data analytics, services, and industry-specific solutions. They accept pitches here.
DroneBase is a service that allows you to either hire a drone pilot to complete a project or become a freelance pilot for them. They match up each job and pilot based on location, availability, and equipment required.
Aviator.io helps businesses connect with professional drone pilots who are certified and insured (each pilot gets manually reviewed). Their pilots range in applications from cinematography, to mapping, to inspection and monitoring.
InvenSense designs, develops, markets, and sells micro-electro-mechanical system gyroscopes for motion tracking devices in consumer electronics. They’re used in smartphones and tablets, and are an integral part of drone rigs as well.
MicroPilot produces autopilots for unmanned aerial systems. They create autopilots for manufacturers of fixed-wing, transitional, helicopter, and multi-rotor UAVs. Features include airspeed and altitude hold, turn coordination, GPS navigation, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and autonomous operation from launch to recovery.
PolarPro produces filters and other accessories for GoPro cameras. Their products have become extremely popular among drone aerial videographers. PolarPro was featured in an episode of Shark Tank and scored a $1 million deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec for a 20% stake in the company.
DJI is one of the top consumer drone manufacturers, known mainly for their Phantom series. In mid-2015, they received a $75 million investment from Accel Partners, taking their overall valuation to $10 billion. Their Phantom series has become the quintessential drone for new to intermediate pilots and videographers, but as they expand into more advanced systems (like the Inspire One) their reach becomes even farther.
3D Robotics is lead by Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and the guy who accidentally started the drone boom. The company makes some of the most advanced systems around, like the IRIS+ and 3DR Solo. Both boast their extremely intuitive autopilot technology with easy-to-use controls and software. The company notes that “in drones we’re now seeing the convergence of numerous advanced technologies—cameras, computers, sensors, phones, the web, motors, electrical systems and custom hardware—and Solo is the first drone to fully leverage all of them.” 3D Robotics is a drone company to watch in 2016 and beyond.
Parrot makes some of the best drones on the market. Their Bebop drone is always a favorite in lists around the web. Parrot also designs, develops and markets consumer products for smartphones and tablets other than consumer UAVs and drones.
Matternet is a UAV manufacturer that builds world-class flying vehicles and intelligent software. They developed the Matternet One, the first smart drone made exclusively for transportation.
While GoPro is primarily an action sports camera manufacturer, they’re producing their first drone for consumer use. Not to mention, their cameras are some the best for capturing aerial photos and videos using UAVs.
Yuneec first started innovating in the aircraft industry before creating the first commercially successful ready-to-fly fixed wing RC airplane. Eventually, they transitioned into their increasingly popular aerial video quadcopters.
Formed in 2007, Sunlight Photonics develops solar airborne communications systems and services. They produce Sunfleets, which are clusters of solar UAVs with robust airframe designs, lightweight PV power, formation flight control software, and distributed communication payloads.
Vires Aeronautics develops high-performance unmanned aerial vehicles that utilize Active Circulation Control (ACC) technology. Their flagship product, The Ora, is designed to support a plethora of mission objectives to accommodate demands for precision agriculture, water management, infrastructure monitoring, land mapping, pipeline tracking, disaster relief, and environmental protection. It’s the first commercially available drone that runs entirely on solar power.
SkyWorks Aerial Systems creates tools that simplify drone application development for millions of untapped developers. They produce customizable products that aim to “bring down the barrier to robotic technologies for everyone.” Check out Qua.R.K, a drone that uses Skyworks Aerial Systems’ unique POD (plug-n-operate) technology to deliver a variety of payload options for different commercial solutions.
Panoptes created the eBumper, an add-on that detects obstacles near your drone and automatically “bumps” it away to avoid collision. Afterwards, control is returned to the pilot. Right now, the eBumper available for 4 drones: the DJI Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision, Phantom 2 Vision+ and the 3DR Iris+.
Flyability is developing Gimball, the world’s first collision-tolerant flying robot capable of remaining stable after contact and safe to fly close to people. It is allowing, for the first time, safe and easy access to places out of reach of current drone systems. Flyability also won the 2015 UAE Drones for Good Award and the $1M prize!
Blade produces quadcopters and mini-drones for the consumer market. Many of their drones are great for beginners and offer people cheap ways to experience aerial photography.
UDI creates larger sized quadcopters and multicopters for consumers. Many of their drones are less than $100 and feature cameras for aerial videography and photography.
Ascending Technologies is a UAS developer and manufacturer of technology for professional, civil & research UAV/drone use. Every one of their systems goes through various control procedures – such as indoor and outdoor test flights – for closest examination prior to ready-to-fly delivery.
Lily Robotics created the Lily Drone, a fully autonomous quadcopter that follows you as you perform any activity. It’s great for extreme sports, hikes, or simply taking still-frame portraits and panoramic videos.
Draganfly Innovations hand-makes their systems in North America. They produce drone systems that specialize in public safety applications, aerial photography, industrial inspection, and education/research.
UAV Solutions creates custom unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial and public sector needs. These unmanned systems are used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as for experimentation purposes.
Action Drone USA produces portable industrial drones to help companies get jobs done safely and efficiently. They manufacture rigs that are specific to any commercial application and are easily compatible with third-party software.
AMIMON created CONNEX, a UAV add-on that allows professional drone users to outfit virtually any rig with long-range full-HD video transmission capabilities (with zero latency).
Dedrone developed a piece of drone tracking technology. The DroneTracker uses multiple parameters, such as noise, shape, and movement patterns, to help guard against spying, smuggling, potential terrorist attacks and invasions of personal privacy.
SimScale‘s mission is to “empower engineers, designers and scientists around the world to develop their products better, faster and more cost-efficiently.” They created drone simulation software to help DIY and manufacturers develop better drone systems.
Airware‘s operating system (the Aerial Information Platform) helps businesses safely and reliably operate drones at scale, comply with government and insurance requirements, and build industry-specific drone software solutions. It enables autopilot technology, a Ground Control Station for dispatching drones, and a cloud platform for customizing missions and collecting data.
DroneDeploy offers powerful cloud-based drone software that’s compatible with any drone. It allows you to map/create 3D models and analyze and share the data right from your device. Check out their plans and pricing here.
Skydio has over a decade of experience building drone navigation systems using onboard sensors. They pioneered GPS-denied flight using a broad range of sensing and algorithmic technologies. Skydio is currently developing software to make drones more aware of their surroundings, to help surveyors, cinematographers, and other pilots focus on getting the shots they need rather than worrying about crashes, flyaways, and other mishaps when flying a drone.
Avision Robotics has extensive experience in the development of modeling and simulation software. They’re building a powerful platform that controls communication and navigation of large amounts of robots and drones, which perform various real-life tasks in agriculture, construction, mining and military applications.
Pix Processing created a desktop software application that performs 3D structure reconstruction from aerial and handheld imagery. Their software can be used for 7 main applications: mining, agriculture, the wood industry, geodesy, insurance, architecture, and archeology.
Aerial Technology International offers drone training and support services (among their other DIY and RTF rigs). You can choose between on and off-site training as well as get repair assessments for your drone.
DroneU is an online drone training membership site. Members get access to exclusive content provided by the DroneU team and join a community of other pilots in their private Facebook group.
XProHeli is an online drone retailer that offers free pilot training to their customers. From flight training, to drone-specific guides, to repair and maintenance — they have a full spectrum of resources to take advantage of.
DARTdrones offers one of the most popular UAV ground school training programs. They’re one of the only FAA Certified drone flight schools in the U.S., and they travel across the country giving training lessons to budding pilots.
Drone University USA employs seasoned FAA certified instructors, with more than 40 years of combined commercial and fixed wing aircraft instruction. They use flight simulators and hands on flight instruction to prepare pilots to become licensed, small Unmanned Aerial System (“sUAS”) commercial operators when the FAA further opens the skies for commercial drone use.
Unmanned Experts is a growing, independent team of UxS experts with over 25,000 flying hours on UAS operations and programs (and over 35,000 flying hours on manned aircraft). They offer 3 tiers of training: Hobbyists & Amateur Flyers, Prosumers & Commercial Start-ups, and Industrial, Government & Inspection Service Providers.
Quest UAV offers drone training services to a vast array of clients. They break their training down into 7 levels to cater to different skill levels and needs.
National Drone Schools is an online UAV flight training service. They use videos, workbooks, and online tests to deliver their material.
HexCam hosts a UK based drone training program. They specialize in octocopter and hexacopter training.
RUSTA (or the Rheinmetall’s Unmanned Systems Training Academy) is a CAA approved National Qualified Entity for Small Unmanned Air Systems (SUAS). They provide training for operators in the UK who wish to obtain Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW) from the CAA.
FLYSAFE offers one of the most popular training programs for UAV pilots. Operators can take a 2-day in-person certification course that teaches safe and effective operation of low-range unmanned aerial vehicles and systems.
Droneflight is a drone retailer that also offers 3 different levels of in-person training: “Enabling Aerial Work” training, “Remote Pilot Qualification,” or both in one package.
Thank you for checking out our list of drone companies to watch in 2016.
Hopefully you found some interesting businesses to follow.
And if your company was featured, congratulations on your success! Keep up the good work as we all continue to push the UAV community and industry forward.
What do you think of this list? Any companies you would like to see that weren’t featured? Let us know in the comments below.