Monday, April 19, 2021

A comparison of VTOL mapping drones

The Fieldwork Company

For some time now, VTOL drones have entered the field of aerial mapping. These Vertical Takeoff and Landing drones offer the flexibility and ease of use of a multirotor combined with the range and stability of a fixed wing UAV.

At The Fieldwork Company we have been using both fixed wing and multirotor drones for aerial surveys for many years, and always like to stay at the forefront of technology. So we decided to create a comparison of some VTOL mapping models to guide us in buying the right model for us. Hopefully, this will help others choose what fits their needs.

Three commercially available VTOL mapping systems are the Vertical Technologies DeltaQuad, Wingtra WingtraOne and AtmosUAV Marlyn. They all boast impressive websites and present a lot of figures that are not always easy to understand or put into context.
The key focus of the comparison was price, performance and options. We have omitted several properties that were either identical in all models, or not relevant to the core task. For example, they all offer PPK, a rugged flight case and automated survey generation.

All data below is based on published specifications, information requested from the manufacturer and in some cases derived or based on common sense. So here goes comparing VTOL apples with apples.

DeltaQuad Pro #MAPWingtra WingtraOneAtmosUAV Marlyn
Coverage at 3cm/px1000ha400ha300ha
Coverage at 10cm/px3500ha1800ha1100ha
Lowest ground resolution0.4 cm/px0.7 cm/px0.7 cm/px
Payload capacity1200g800g1000g
Max telemetry range20 km / Unlimited (4G)8 km3 km
Setup time1 minute5 minutes7 minutes
Preflight calibrationsNoneAirspeed sensorAirspeed sensor
Manual remote control requiredNoYesYes
4G/LTE supportYesNoNo
FPV video supportYesNoNo
Simulator includedYesNoNo
Backpack includedNoYesYes
Flight redundancy
(separated drives)
Swappable payloadsYesYesNo
Supported camerasSony A7R-III
Sony RX1R-II
Sony A6000
Micasense RedEdge
MapIR Survey3
Flir Duo Pro R
Sony RX1R-II
Sony QX1
Micasense RedEdge
Sony RX1R-II
Sony QX1
Micasense RedEdge
Dry weight5.0 Kg3.7 Kg5.7 Kg
Wing span235 cm125 cm160 cm
Max flight distance100 km50 km30 km
Max flight time110 minutes55 minutes50 minutes
Max cruise wind specified45 km/h40 km/h45 km/h
Max takeoff & landing wind specified33 km/h30 km/hNot specified
Effective max wind for mapping *30 km/h30 km/h30 km/h
Package Price **
– RX1R-II camera
– PPK with base
– Ground station
– Rugged flightcase
DeltaQuad Pro #MAP

€ 19.600
Wingtra WingtraOne – No PPK Base

€  29.500
AtmosUAV Marlyn
– No PPK Base
– No ground station
€ 30.400

* The maximum wind conditions listed are those in which the vehicle can still operate safely, these are generally not conditions in which a mapping mission is feasible. Wingtra has released a video showing how their vehicle operated in high wind conditions that clearly show conditions unsuitable for mapping:

** The prices indicated are based on quotations from the manufacturer. To give a fair comparison we have requested exactly the same options on every model: The Sony RX1R-II, a PPK system with base station, a ground control station and a rugged flight case. Not all quotations included all components and the deviations are listed.

Based on our comparison we chose the DeltaQuad as it offers the most range per flight and the most moderate price. So far we have been pleased with the results, their specifications seem to match reality and the system flies very stable.