80 Drone Companies to Watch in 2017
BY Alan Perlman23 January 2017
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. 🙂
Looking for a particular type of drone company? To help you find the companies most relevant to your interests, choose the option that best describes you from the list below. (Or you can skip this feature and simply see the full list of drone companies by category.)
Tell us who you are, and we’ll direct you to the companies most relevant to your interests:
I fly drones just for fun.
Awesome! Here are links to the types of companies that will most likely fit your interests:
- Hardware—Companies that make drones and drone accessories.
- Drone Industry News—The best in the industry for breaking news and in-depth analysis.
And here are some other resources you might find useful:
For beginner pilots
For intermediate to advanced pilots
I fly drones commercially.
Nice work! (Get it?) Here are links to the types of companies that will most likely fit your interests:
- Hardware Companies—Companies that make drones and drone accessories.
- Flight Operation Management—Tracking, storing, sharing, and analyzing flights and flight data, including tools for team collaboration.
- Data-Processing Tools—Enabling drone pilots to use all the data gathered by their drones.
- Marketplaces, Databases & Funders—Places for drone pilots to find work and companies that fund other drone companies.
- Drone Industry News—The best in the industry for breaking news and in-depth analysis.
And here are some other resources you might find helpful:
For those just getting started with their drone business
For those already up and running
- In-Depth Guide to Drone Insurance
- Guide to Drone Laws by Country
- Course: Mapping and 3D Modeling 101
- Course: Aerial Post-Production 101
- Course: Introduction to Aerial Thermography
I want to hire someone who flies drones.
Hard to navigate all the options out there, isn’t it? Here are links to the types of companies that will help you find what you need:
- Miscellaneous—Drone companies that provide services (such as surveying, inspections, and agricultural tools), and a mixed bag of many other types of drone companies that don’t fit neatly into a single category.
- Marketplaces, Databases & Funders—Places to find lists of drone pilots and service providers.
- Drone Industry News—The best in the industry for breaking news and in-depth analysis.
You also might want to check out our blog, since we write about drone companies that provide various types of service, from agriculture to inspections and much more, all the time.
List of Top Drone Companies in 2017
For easy navigation, we’ve tried to categorize these companies based on their core offering. Use the following links to jump to each type of company:
- Hardware Companies
- Drone Industry News
- Flight Operation Management
- Data-Processing Tools
- Marketplaces, Databases & Funders
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.
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 Gimball, the world’s first collision-tolerant flying robot capable of remaining stable after contact, and safe to fly close to people. Flyability’s Elios was developed using this technology specifically for industrial inspection professionals. Their collision-tolerant systems allow, 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
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.
Drone Industry News Companies
The best in the industry for breaking news and in-depth analyses.
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.
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.
Drones at Work is a news site for the commercial drone industry created by commercial drone developer Kespry, with the goal of highlighting all the exciting developments of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) across a range of solutions in agriculture, construction, delivery, inspection, mining, safety, surveying and others.
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).
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.
UAV Expert News is run by drone industry professionals, and is one of the leading sources for UAV news, information, and education.
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.
Flight Operation Management
Tracking, storing, sharing, and analyzing flights and flight data, including tools for team collaboration.
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 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.
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
Redbird is a pioneer in the acquisition and analysis of aerial data collected by UAVs. Their advanced cloud-based platform, Cardinal, optimizes resources, ensures safety, and saves costs on construction sites, mines, or quarries. They’ve also partnered with Caterpillar, the leading construction equipment manufacturer in the world.
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.
Identified Technologies provides a fully-managed commercial drone solution to improve project tracking and team productivity. Their integrated software provides an array of services, from FAA compliance and flight planning to advanced analytics. Identified Technologies provides 2D data, 3D volumetrics, orthomosaics, as built versus as planned comparisons, as well as progress and cost forecasting and change detection. Their mission is to provide a new level of transparency and insights for the most difficult project management challenges.
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.
Marketplaces, Databases & Funders
Places for drone pilots to find work and companies that fund other drone companies.
Note: If you’re a U.S.-based drone pilot looking for work, the four marketplaces listed below are a good starting place, but 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 and they’re projecting huge revenue growth for 2017, with customers and qualified pilots operating around the world focused on aerial imagery, video, mapping, and data.
Skytango is a marketplace where drone pilots can find work, and those looking for stock drone footage can purchase it. They offer a fremium model for their platform for those looking to get their feet wet, and a paid pro version for those want more robust features to help make sales for their commercial drone operation. One neat offering from Skytango is that they’ve partnered with drone insurance providers to make finding insurance smooth, and get a discount in the process.
Up Sonder is the first peer-to-peer on-demand drone marketplace, providing drone rentals and commercial drone services by certified pilots for everyone, from large corporations to individuals who only need a single mission. Up Sonder has partnered with delivery company UberRUSH to deliver rental drones in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Individuals with drones to rent out can place their UAVs on the site and make money renting out their drones, and certified drone pilots can use the site to find extra work.
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
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
The drone industry is incredibly dynamic and fast-moving, which makes it hard to categorize all of the companies out there. Some of the companies listed here provides services, some (like the Drone Racing League) provide entertainment, but these are just a few examples.
If you feel like one of the companies listed here should be moved or changed, please shoot us an email at mail email@example.com.
Aerial MOB provides drone services and aerial cinematography. They’ve been doing some really innovative work—check out this single-shot two minute video they did for Dancing with the Stars. The logistics and professional ability needed for this kind of continuous shot are just mind blowing!
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.
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.
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. Their new venture, Site Scan, looks promising, and they’re touting it as “the complete drone data platform.”
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 optimizes produce farming by using tractor-mounted sensors and drones. 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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. Measure offers cost-effective mapping and aerial imaging solutions for customers world-wide.
Follow Measure: Twitter
Image in Flight
Image in Flight offers site surveying services, architectural photography, construction support, the creation of advertising videos, and a host of other drone applications.
SilverHawk Aerial Imaging
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.
Follow SilverHawk Aerial Imaging: Facebook
Blue Chip UAS
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).
Thank you for checking out our list of drone companies to watch in 2017.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.