While it’s impossible to track each and every drone company in such a fast-moving industry, we’ve done our best to highlight the biggest players and to give you a sense of who is doing what in the drone industry.
Make sure to bookmark this page if you’re doing industry research. 🙂
For easy navigation we’ve organized these companies into categories according to their core offerings. You can use this table of contents to jump to your category of interest.
Companies that make drones and drone accessories.
DJI is one of the top consumer drone manufacturers, known mainly for their Phantom series. Their Phantom series has become the quintessential drone for new to intermediate pilots and videographers, and the simultaneous launch in late 2016 of the Inspire Two and Phantom 4 Pro was huge news in the industry.
Parrot makes some of the best drones on the market. Their Bebop drone is always a favorite in lists around the web, and the 2.0 version is even more robust than the original, with a 25 minute battery life and powerful motors for flight in greater altitudes. Parrot also designs, develops, and markets consumer products for smartphones and tablets other than consumer UAVs and drones.
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. In early 2017 they announced the launch of the Typhoon H520, designed specifically for commercial applications, as well as a huge customer service initiative to provide high quality service.
Kespry manufactures drones made specifically for capturing, viewing, and analyzing aerial imagery and survey data. Their customers include aggregates, mining, construction and surveying companies.
Autel Robotics has been delivering solutions for new aerial exploration through their market-leading quadcopter and camera drone technology. They emphasize transforming complex technology into simple solutions, and creating easy-to-use aerial devices for photography/filming and imaging.
Insitu runs the gamut of drone services, providing hardware in the form of commercial-focused drones; software for extracting intelligence from raw data gathered by drones; and drone-related services for commercial applications, such as surveying and reconnaissance. Their ScanEagle drone was designed for aerial imaging, with diverse applications such as agricultural assessment, oil or gas pipeline inspection, and force protection.
Follow Insitu: Twitter
EHANG designs and manufactures drones that can be controlled entirely via a smartphone app. Their GhostDrone 2.0 has some great features such as self-protection, which makes it automatically return in case of low battery or lost communication; dual sensors, so that a backup kicks in if the first sensor fails; and app control, designed so that “smart algorithms” kick in to reduce human error during flight.
Aeryon Labs, Inc. creates drones for diverse applications, ranging from Commercial, to Public Safety, to Military & Defense. In addition to their sUAS units, they’re known for their “ruggedized” payload systems for commercial drone camera work, and their video processing platform, designed to enable the various uses their products support.
CyPhy designs and manufactures drones that are specific and purpose-built, targeting applications and problems that can only be solved by robotic design. Their drones are designed with both commercial and government uses in mind.
senseFly is a Parrot-owned company founded in 2009 by a team of robotics researchers, and is an industry leader in mapping drones. Their data collection and processing tools are employed by customers around the world in fields such as surveying, agriculture, GIS, industrial inspection, mining, and humanitarian aid.
Aerialtronics designs, produces and services commercial unmanned aircraft systems. Their latest generation, the Altura Zenith, combines state of the art technology with a flat, compact, and lightweight design. With a wide range of payload compatibility, from dual vision cameras to gas sniffers to radiation detectors, Aerialtronics’ systems can be applied to a wide variety of segments including: Safety & Security, Inspection, Surveying & Mapping, Agriculture, and Research.
Freefly is the inventor of the Movi Gimbal Stabilizer, and they’ve also been responsible for pulling surfers via drones (coolness factor through the roof for that!). In 2015 they unveiled their new, highly professional drone, the Freefly ALTA, which has been so popular that the Alta has become synonymous with Freefly, and is commonly used interchangeably with the company’s name.
Flyability created Elios, the world’s first collision-tolerant flying robot capable of remaining stable after contact, safe to fly close to people, and developed specifically for industrial inspection professionals. Their collision-tolerant system allows, for the first time, safe and easy access to places out of reach of current drone systems. In 2015 Flyability won the UAE Drones for Good Award, which came with a whopping $1M prize!
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.
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.
GoPro had a failed first launch of their Karma drone in 2016, but CEO Nick Woodman has announced a re-launch slated for February of 2017. GoPro is of course known for making action sports cameras, which are some the best in the industry for capturing aerial photos and videos using UAVs.
Intel is leading the industry in terms of innovation and creating new technology to meet developing needs. Most recently they’ve teamed up with Disney to create aerial light shows that can replace fireworks displays. Intel both creates drones and the systems required for other companies to create their own drones.
Ambarella is the leading developer of low-power, high-definition (HD) and Ultra HD video compression and image processing solutions. Most notably they create chips specifically designed to allow cameras on drones to function better in low-light or high-contrast situations, and produce much smoother video.
FLIR is a company that brings innovative sensing solutions into daily life for drones through thermal imaging systems, visible light imaging systems, locator systems, measurement and diagnostic systems, and advanced heat detection systems. FLIR’s imaging solutions are not limited just to use on drones.
Workswell creates state-of-the-art thermal imaging systems designed for commercial unmanned aerial vehicles. The Workswell WIRIS 2nd gen thermal imaging system allows for real-time sensor control via a standard RC radio transmitter that communicates directly with the drone.
UDI creates larger sized quadcopters and multicopters for consumers. Many of their drones are less than $100 and feature cameras for aerial photography and videography, and three of their drones are featured on our list of cheap drones for beginners.
Follow UDI: Website
Follow Hubsan: Facebook
Cheerson is an extremely popular drone manufacturer. They developed the Cheerson CX-10, the smallest quadcopter to date and a top seller on Amazon, also featured on our list of cheap drones for beginners.
Syma Toys is a China-based company that manufacturers consumer drones, quadcopters, helicopters, and even an RC car/quadcopter hybrid. Their X5C is featured on our list of cheap drones for beginners, and is a great starter drone for new pilots who want to learn how to fly a quadcopter.
Follow Syma Toys: Website
Sky Viper creates drone for aerial video, racing, and general recreation (as indicated on their website, where one of their taglines is “Serious Performance. Serious Fun.”). Sky Viper has a flight simulation app (in Google Play and the Apple Store) for those pilots interested in buying their drones but want to learn a little more about how the drone might handle, which is pretty neat.
Follow Sky Viper: Facebook
Blade produces quadcopters and mini-drones for the consumer market. Many of their drones are great for beginners and offer people cheap ways to learn more about aerial photography.
Follow Blade: Facebook
AguaDrone is a fully modular waterproof drone with a quick change accessory system and an entire family of accessories that include: Find Pod, wifi enabled sonar fish finder that sends images to you smartphone or handheld device; Fish Pod, a remotely controlled payload release that can carry your bait and line and drop it where the fish are; OS Pod, an open source pod that allows users to quickly and easily attach their own device, providing connection with the battery and receiver; a 360 degree waterproof camera; and gimbals for the 360 degree camera and a GoPro. AguaDrone is predominantly used for fishing, but it’s unofficial slogan is “the Swiss Army knife of drones.”
Embention is an international UAS company founded in 2007 and focused on components and critical systems. Its main product is the “Veronte Autopilot”, which is also available in a triple redundant version, and is ITAR free. Embention also designs and manufactures high quality customized UAVs.
Gryphon Dynamics is known for making big, high end drones for cinematography and industrial applications.
Gryphon Sensors is one of the world’s leaders in intelligent drone detection and safe UAS integration. They launched Skylight, one of the first UTMs (Unmanned Traffic Management systems), in 2017 to help with drone traffic management and BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) flights.
Follow Gryphon Sensors: Twitter
Fat Shark is one of the leading manufacturers of goggles, cameras, and accessories for FPV racing.
BFD Systems was launched this year, and has hit the ground running. They make custom big rigs for high end applications, and we can expect to see a lot more of them in the drone industry.
Follow BFD Systems: Facebook
Atlas Dynamics makes end-to-end solutions in the drone industry, and works to simplify technology to make it more user friendly. They launched their Nest this year, a charging station that enables drone automation by providing a place for a drone to charge before automatically deploying on a programmed mission.
SicDrone creates drones designed for maximum flight efficiency, and works in government, security and agriculture applications.
TuffWing is a U.S. based company that creates drones for affordable aerial mapping. Their drones can carry a variety of sensors, and they are resellers of licenses for mapping software Pix4D.
Airspace is a drone security solution capable of identifying, tracking, and autonomously removing rogue drones from the sky. Their hardware and software was built specifically for this type of work and helps keep airspace safe.
Aptonomy creates drone for security, monitoring, and inspections. Their BlackHawk drone uses A.I. to provide continuous situational awareness across any given area.
Follow SkySpecs: Twitter
Dedrone created a piece of drone tracking technology called the DroneTracker, which uses multiple parameters, such as noise, shape, and movement patterns, to help guard against spying, smuggling, potential terrorist attacks, and invasions of personal privacy.
3D Robotics has just finished a rocky year in the commercial sector, during which they shifted their primary focus from making drones for consumers to providing software solutions for industrial drone applications. Despite shifting focus to their new venture, Site Scan, which 3DR describes as “the complete drone data platform” their Solo drone is still in the list of the top 10 drones used for commercial work in the U.S.
SparrowHawk by Search Systems is an anti-drone system designed to attach to a drone that deploys a net to capture rogue drones in mid-air.
The best in the industry for breaking news and in-depth analyses.
The Drone Girl is a drone-focused news site run by reporter Sally French, a regular contributor to MarketWatch and The Wall Street Journal, among several other news sites. The Drone Girl was created with the intent of exploring drones and how they can assist the world via the imagery they produce, and is an outlet to publish aerial photos, videos, and stories about the evolution of drones.
The FAA regularly updates it’s website and sends out a newsletter with the latest information about drone regulations and related news. To subscribe to their drone-related newsletter, go to their drone-focused webpage and click the envelope icon with the plus sign on the upper right hand corner of the page.
Drone Analyst is a research, content, and advisory services firm for the commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry. They help constituents make critical business decisions by providing research-based insights on commercial drone markets. Their three target constituents are: 1) Manufacturers, suppliers, and business service providers who need research and insight into buyer needs; 2) Buyers of UAS technology and services, to help inform their acquisition decisions; 3) Investors who need to distinguish technical and market viability.
DroneLife provides the latest drone news, product releases, YouTube videos and legal precedents to help drone enthusiasts and professionals stay informed about everything related to drones.
Inside Drones provides news for hobbyists, professionals, and investors in the drone industry. They have a weekly newsletter that features a video of the week and an aggregate of the top drone news stories.
Drone Business Center provides in-depth analyses of goings on in the drone industry, including close looks at regulatory developments. Dronin’ On is their weekly commentary and news summary, and one of the best news sources in the industry.
Bard Center for the Study of the Drone conducts studies in the drone industry and publishes a “weekly roundup” newsletter that is a great source for data and insights.
Follow Bard Center for the Study of the Drone: Newsletter
Women and Drones shares stories about women in the drone industry, and works to raise the profile and visibility of women in the UAS industry.
sUAS News is one of the leading sources for news and information in the drone industry. sUAS News was started by UAS pilots and professionals in 2008 (which is a lifetime ago in the fast-moving world of drones, and shows a good deal of forethought).
Tracking, storing, sharing, and analyzing flights and flight data, including tools for team collaboration.
To learn more about flight ops management tools, make sure to check out our free Drone Pilot’s Guide to Flight Operations Management Tools over at Drone Pilot Ground School.
SkyWard is a flight operations management platform designed for drone operators. Their platform can be used for “solopreneurs” to to plan and track flights, and also for large teams to coordinate efforts. Check out this interview we did with Skyward Co-Founder Eric Ringer on how to run a commercial drone operation.
Kittyhawk is a one-stop shop for flying, logging, and coordinating UAV operations. They have a strong focus on providing value for their pilots, which manifests in the usability of their platform and the fact that they allow for unlimited logging of hours.
NV Drones offers next-generation drone management and analytics for the 21st century pilot, with a mobile app available from Google Play and web/mobile integration that allows pilots to to upload flight logs from the most popular drones and software.
Follow NV Drones: Twitter
Drone LogBook is a flight management platform for UAV Pilots. They focus on automating log collections, by supporting more than 20 different UAV log file types. They also have features to manage equipment, battery, maintenance, incident, location, pre-flight documents. DroneLogBook supports a spectrum of UAV pilots, from hobbyists to large companies.
Flyte is a platform to help pilots manage their operations. In addition to planning, logging, and reporting support, Flyte provides full and up to the minute information on digital NOTAMS/TFRs and ground hazards, as well an airspace integration through AIRMAP, which enables pilots to integrate into national airspace and communicate with ATC.
AirMap’s cutting-edge technology transforms airspace below 500 feet to provide accurate, reliable, and trustworthy low-altitude navigational data and communication tools to the drone industry. Their software was developed by experts in GIS, aviation, and policy. AirMap collaborates with industry leaders such as DJI, Intel, senseFly, and others, sharing their data in the flying apps those companies provide.
Enabling drone pilots to use all the data gathered by their drones.
To learn more about software for mapping with drones, check out our free Beginner’s Guide to Drone Mapping Software over at Drone Pilot Ground School.
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. Check out PrecisionHawk’s DataMapper, a software suite that converts UAV imagery into actionable information.
DroneDeploy offers powerful cloud-based drone software that’s compatible with any drone. It allows you to map and create 3D models and analyze and share the data right from your device.
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.
Pix4D provides unmanned aerial vehicle image processing software. Their desktop software is a complete mapping and modeling solution that automatically converts aerial images into 2D mosaics and 3D models.
Agribotix provides software to help people use drone technology in agriculture. They are singularly focused on agriculture, with the goals of helping farmers increase yields and maximize the bottom line while reducing their environmental footprint. Their core business is making data processing software to analyze drone-collected agricultural images.
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.
Follow Pix Processing: Website
SLANTRANGE produces accurate, calibrated, multispectral sensors and an advanced analytics suite for drone-based imaging in agriculture. Their unique approach allows users to fly at only 20% overlap, process imagery in ~10 minutes after landing without a network connection, and produces a unique set of data products that go well beyond NDVI, such as true plant counts, weed maps, canopy closure, yield potential, and custom spectral filters with Smart Detection.
Esri is responsible for building ArcGIS, one of the most powerful mapping softwares in the world. ArcGIS connects people with maps, data, and apps through geographic information systems (GIS). It is a location platform that’s accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Esri software is used in a variety of applications, from Fortune 500 companies, to national and local governments, to public utilities and tech startups.
Maps Made Easy creates software that allows drone pilots to make their own maps with accurate, high resolution imagery that they control. Their mapping software includes features such as 3D stitching, which is piecing together different images and data points to create a single 3D map; stockpile volume measurement, which allows users to measure and track stockpile volumes through their web browser using only aerial images; and the only web-based georeferencing tool, which aligns images to known points on the ground.
Follow Maps Made Easy: Twitter
Avision Robotics has extensive experience in the development of modeling and simulation software. They’ve built a powerful platform that controls the communication and navigation of large amounts of robots and drones, which perform various real-life tasks in agriculture, construction, mining and military applications.
Follow Avision Robotics: Facebook
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 so that 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.
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.
Uplift Data Partners captures and analyzes aerial data to deliver construction insights for project performance. The company operates one of America’s most experienced network of certified drone pilots over construction sites. Uplift drones collect 3D data accurately to five centimeters, preventing rework, which reduces waste and increases safety. Based in Chicago, the Uplift operates in almost 60 locations throughout the United States.
Datumate is a data analytics company for construction applications. They create fully automated, high precision, cost effective solutions that help keep construction crews safe on the job.
GeoCue Group creates tools for kinematic LIDAR data production. Their workflow management tools are used by a majority of North American geospatial production shops.
Bentley is the creator of ContextCapture, which allows users to produce large and challenging 3D models that incorporate complex real-world conditions, including scales as large as entire cities, from simple photographs or point clouds, in order to easily and quickly provide context for design, construction, and operations decisions for all types of infrastructure projects throughout the world.
Raptor Maps makes software to pull insights out of drone data, specializing in artificial intelligence and thermal analytics. The company’s industry-specific solutions include Raptor Solar for PV systems and Enterprise AI for industrial inspections. Read this article we wrote about Raptor Maps to learn more about how they’re making waves in the agriculture drone space.
Gamaya uses hyperspectral imaging technology to help farmers get better and more accurate data. Hyperspectral imaging is 10x more powerful than the standard multispectral technique used by the vast majority of drones in the ag drone startup world. Read this article we wrote to learn more about how Gamaya is helping farmers get the data they need to optimize their efforts.
Places for drone pilots to find work.
Note: We’ve only included the top two marketplaces in the drone industry here. If you’re a U.S.-based drone pilot looking for work, make sure to visit our full list of drone pilot directories and networks at Drone Pilot Ground School to help with your search.
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. DroneBase is the first drone service provider that DJI has invested in through SkyFund.
Measure was founded to help businesses avoid the operating risk and capital expense associated with running one’s own internal drone operations. Measure offers cost-effective mapping and aerial imaging solutions for customers world-wide.
Follow Measure: Twitter
Companies that invest in or provide funding for other drone companies.
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.
Follow SkyFund: Twitter
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.
Follow Commercial Drone Fund: Website
GeniusNY is an in-residence business accelerator program that provides selected companies with a monthly stipend, housing subsidy, office space and amenities, as well as training opportunities.
Companies that make deliveries by drone.
Zipline is one of the biggest startups using drones to provide medical equipment and services to remote areas. They recently partnered with the government of Rwanda to deliver blood and other much needed supplies to rural villages.
Flytrex is an Israel-based drone company that’s created the first cloud-connected drone designed for deliveries, as well as a platform to enable drone deliveries aimed at delivery companies or large retailers that want to make deliveries via drones. They are also developing drone hardware tailored for point-to-point or point-to-area delivery.
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. In 2016 Matternet partnered with Mercedes-Benz “to create the integrated delivery solution that will transform how people receive lightweight goods on demand.”
Amazon is not only one of the premier online drone retailers, they’ve also been working for several years on a drone delivery system—Amazon PrimeAir. The PrimeAir service is designed to “safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles.” Although we wrote a post about their first test delivery in late 2016, it looks like it will still be years before they’re fully operational.
Follow Amazon PrimeAir: Facebook
Flirtey is the first U.S.-approved drone delivery company. Flirtey is interested in working with companies in time-sensitive last mile logistics; including online retail, fast food, letters and parcels, urgent medical delivery, and so on.
Follow Flirtey: Twitter
Project Wing is a drone delivery company started by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. In 2017 they launched a delivery program in Australia that carried burritos and other food to remote regions.
Companies that organize and host drone racing.
Although the list of drone racing organizations is growing as the sport gains popularity, the three primary contenders in the space right now are the ones listed below.
Want to get into FPV acing? Check out our guide to the top FPV racing drones and accessories.
The Drone Racing League “wants to be to drones what the WWE is to wrestling,” as Vice Magazine puts it. The Drone Racing League organizes and promotes drone racing around the U.S. and the world. Check out the DRL racing simulator to see if you might be able to make the cut and be one of their newest pilots.
DR1 hosts drone races throughout the world. In 2017 they were the first drone racing organization to hose a drone race live on broadcast television—the race appeared on CBS News.
MultiGP hosts an annual drone racing championship series in the U.S., and they also have local chapters all over the country where drone pilots can organize their own races. See all their chapters here.
The biggest and best conferences in the drone industry.
InterDrone is held every September in Las Vegas, NV. It’s one of the biggest drone conferences in the world, and it’s growing every year. In 2017 they won an award for being one of the fastest growing conferences in any industry.
AUVSI XPONENTIAL is AUVSI’s annual conference for the promotion of unmanned systems and robotics. AUVSI is one of the world’s largest international non-profits devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community.
The New York City Drone Film Festival (NYCDFF) is one of the premier venues for the top drone videos created in the world. In addition to showcasing high quality drone videos in various categories, the event features panels and talks by industry leaders. NYCDFF has been happening since 2015, and every year it grows in size and quality.
Unmanned Systems Canada was founded in 2003, and it is a national Canadian association that represents, supports, and promotes innovation and capabilities in Canada’s Unmanned Systems industry and community.
Commercial UAV Expo is one of North America’s leading tradeshows for the commercial drone market. It features seven distinct commercial tracks for different industrial applications, as well as an international exhibition hall attended by drone manufacturers from around the world.
Companies that provide education about or with drones.
DroneBlocks provides everything needed (curriculum, support, etc.) for educators to quickly launch a drone-based STEM program. They combine curriculum with a user friendly iPad app, and layer it on top of best in class drones. The result is a scalable end-to-end solution for a project based learning environment. DroneBlocks empowers STEM leaders to educate in the context of unprecedented engagement.
The Zephyr simulator by Little Arms Studios is one of the best simulators out there for learning how to fly a drone. The Zephyr has been out since 2016, when it was launched at InterDrone’s annual conference.
Follow Little Arms Studios: Facebook
PCS Edventures is working to instill a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in students all over the globe, using drones and other technology to support their efforts. Edventures creates materials that allow learners to develop the foundations of scientific inquiry, engineering design principles, and spatial mathematical awareness while also exercising problem-solving, communication, reflection and collaboration skills.
That’s all folks!
Thank you for checking out our list of drone companies to watch in 2018.
Hopefully you found some interesting businesses to follow, and learned a little more about ones you already knew.
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?
Shoot us an email at email@example.com to let us know.