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 #MAP||Wingtra WingtraOne||AtmosUAV Marlyn|
|Coverage at 3cm/px||1000ha||400ha||300ha|
|Coverage at 10cm/px||3500ha||1800ha||1100ha|
|Lowest ground resolution||0.4 cm/px||0.7 cm/px||0.7 cm/px|
|Max telemetry range||20 km / Unlimited (4G)||8 km||3 km|
|Setup time||1 minute||5 minutes||7 minutes|
|Preflight calibrations||None||Airspeed sensor||Airspeed sensor|
|Manual remote control required||No||Yes||Yes|
|FPV video support||Yes||No||No|
|Supported cameras||Sony A7R-III |
Flir Duo Pro R
|Dry weight||5.0 Kg||3.7 Kg||5.7 Kg|
|Wing span||235 cm||125 cm||160 cm|
|Max flight distance||100 km||50 km||30 km|
|Max flight time||110 minutes||55 minutes||50 minutes|
|Max cruise wind specified||45 km/h||40 km/h||45 km/h|
|Max takeoff & landing wind specified||33 km/h||30 km/h||Not specified|
|Effective max wind for mapping *||30 km/h||30 km/h||30 km/h|
|Package Price **|
– RX1R-II camera
– PPK with base
– Ground station
– Rugged flightcase
|DeltaQuad Pro #MAP|
|Wingtra WingtraOne – No PPK Base|
– No PPK Base
– No ground station
* 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.