Drones have been used for years in the military and by law enforcement agencies. They have also found their way into private hands as a fun hobby or an interesting business tool. But one question that has always come up with drone flying is whether these remote-controlled aircraft can carry anything at all beyond what you could fit in your pocket.
Can drones carry things? Can they deliver packages? If yes, how much weight can a drone carry? In more technical terms, how much “payload” can drones carry? In this blog post, we are going to explore these questions.
Most toy category or low-priced drones with brushed motors can only carry their own body weight. Mid & high-end drones can carry a weight of 20% – 40% of their body weight due to their powerful brushless motors.
But these are only ballpark figures. Let’s look at some real drone models and see how much weight they can lift. We will also look at some factors that might affect drones’ ability to lift additional weights and their application in real life.
How much weight can a drone carry?
Here is a table listing the most popular models and their maximum load-bearing capacity according to their manufacturer or users.
Toy category drones
Toy category drones use cheaper brush motors which are not powerful enough to lift off any additional weight. You can only use them to fly in a wind-free environment and for crashing. They can usually carry their own body weight without any additional payloads like gimble or GoPro camera system.
Mid / high end drones
Mid to high-end drones have much more powerful brushless motors which are able to lift off additional weights. The payload capacity is given by manufacturers as a ballpark figure but don’t expect it to be 100% accurate.
Also, their payload capacity can vary a lot even for the same drone due to external factors such as flying environment and how aggressively / skillfully you fly.
|Drone model||Max. take-off weight|
|Mavic Mini||249 grams|
|Mavic Mini 2||249 grams|
|Mavic 2 Pro||907 grams|
|Mavic Air 2||570 grams|
|DJI Spark||300 grams|
|Autel EVO II Series||1150 grams|
Professional photography and cinematography drones can lift off the weight of their own body + gimbal + pro camera (usually 5 to 10lbs). Usually, these drones can carry all this weight without any problem as they are designed for the payload.
Another category of professional drones is used for agricultural purposes. They are used to spray pesticides and herbicides on fields. They can lift a weight of 20 – 40lbs thanks to their powerful motors, large battery packs and heavy-duty propellers.
Below are a few professional drones with their maximum take-off weights.
|Professional Drone model||Max. take-off weight|
|Yuneec H920 Tornado||1.60 Kg|
|Skydio X2||1.45 Kg|
|DJI Matrice 300 RTK||9.0 Kg|
|DJI Agras MG-1||8.8 Kg|
|Freefly Alta 8||18.1 Kg|
|DJI Inspire 2||4.25 Kg|
|DJI S1000||6.8 Kg|
|Intuitive Aerial Aerigon MK II||2.44 Kg|
How can I find out how much weight can my drone carry?
If you are looking for maximum payload capacity, it is recommended that you look at the official product website or drone community forum to get accurate measurements.
Most manufacture list “maximum take-off weight” – a term that describes the maximum weight including the drone itself, and any additional payload (e-g your GoPro camera) tied to the drone. The motors are not designed to produce thrust greater than the maximum take-off weight.
However, most sub-$100 hobbyist drones can only lift their own weight without any additional weight. They are not even designed to hold any additional payload unless you temper the body to hold a non-standard payload.
Can drones be used for package delivery?
Yes, drones can be used for package delivery. For example, Amazon is already testing package delivery via its specially designed Prime Air drones. The packages can be delivered in a short time of 30 minutes or less. Isn’t it great?
If you think about it, package delivery via drones makes sense. Companies may save on labor costs and time by having their products delivered by drones.
Humans can work up to 8 hours a day but drones are able to fly 24/7. Drone delivery is especially useful and a fuel saver when you have to deliver a single small package to a remote area. You don’t have to send a delivery truck all the way just to deliver a $20 phone cover. Drones can do that easily.
Can drones lift a human?
From the previous question, it can be seen that drones can lift up to 20-30lbs without any issue. So can they carry a human? There are taxi drones designed and tested that can carry a 150 lbs person.
In the future, we can expect taxi drones to take over the world and give us a crazy and futuristic experience. They can carry up to 100+ lbs and can fly with people at high altitudes. The only obstacle is how can they navigate crowded places such as cities? It can be decades before we see taxi drones carrying people around the city.
Conclusions – Can Drones Carry Things?
Drones can carry a lot of weight, but this is dependent on the type of drone and how it’s used. Toy drones cannot carry any additional payloads due to their motors being too weak, while professional photography/cinematography can usually lift up to 10lbs with no issue.
Mid-to high-end drones can also only carry an additional 20% – 40% body weight without any problem if they are powerful enough. However, these weights can vary based upon external factors such as wind or aggressive flying style.
Don’t forget that there are many different types of drones for all sorts of specific tasks. So make sure you’re looking at the right one if you want information about its ability to fly with extra payloads!