In the world of UAVs, the maximum weight that a flying aircraft can carry is expressed as “payload”. The payload includes all the equipment on board to carry out missions: sensors, cameras, radars, lasers, parcels and armaments for military drones. Avionics components (gyrometer, accelerometer, GPS, altimeter) are excluded from this calculation, as are the hardware components of each drone (chassis, rotors, propellers, batteries and ESC controllers).
The specifications and functions of drones can vary greatly from one model to another, and will directly impact the maximum weight they are able to lift and transport. We will see that while payload is of great importance for professional drones, it is a secondary factor, and even ignored by hobby drones manufacturers and amateur pilots.
Hobby Drones Payload
As a general rule, manufacturers of drones intended for the general public, including the most sophisticated models, try to increase flight time duration and controlled flight range to an extent where it wouldn’t dramatically increase the prices. They do not mention or focus on the notion of payload. Indeed, these civil drones are neither designed nor equipped to carry an additional load than the one on board. Even if there is still a margin of a few hundred grams, the payload is already used by the equipment provided by the manufacturer, most often consisting of the equipped camera for aerial photography.
When a drone or mini drone owner tries to fly a drone by adding weight, it should be known that this will directly influence the usual characteristics of the operation and handling of this drone: flight time duration, stabilization and handling. In addition, it is important to remember that the use of a drone in US airspace is subject to FAA regulations, which require approval for drones above a certain total weight.
Professional Drones Payload
UAVs (Unmanned aerial vehicles) used in professional, industrial or military environments are particularly concerned by the weight they are able to carry while flying. Whether it is to install a camera on their gimabl, to film, inspect and monitor, or to carry sensors and other elements useful for industrial missions. These drones are able to carry impressive loads, while maintaining sufficient autonomy to carry out their missions, thanks to the capacity of LiPo batteries, as well as the power of their engine and the number of these engines, or rotors. For example, the DJI Matrix 600 Pro UAV can take off and fly with a payload of 6 kg, while its own weight is only 10 kg, for a flight time of up to 38 minutes.
We are witnessing a real race for the records of payloads transportable by drone, but these figures, which can reach more than 60 kg, must always be put into perspective, because most often, these flights only last a few seconds or minutes and are only carried out at very low altitudes.