Vaughn Reveals the Five Best Drones on the Market Today

April 2, 2020 Vaughn Spotlights

Social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak may be grounding us at home, but that isn’t keeping drone enthusiasts down. In fact, there are several types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are available on the market today that can have hobbyists spreading their virtual wings safely both indoors and outdoors.

Peter Kalaitzidis ’20 is a drone expert and a highly decorated retired staff sergeant of the United States Air Force, who is graduating this year with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. We asked for his top picks of the five best drones on the market today. Did you know there are drones that are even safe enough for kids to fly indoors? Check them out!

Best Indoor Drones

1. Tiny Whoop

Appropriately named, the Tiny Whoop is a small first-person-view aircraft that is perfect for small apartments or any indoor drone flying—even around kids! Weighing less than one pound (40 g) its shrouded propellers gives users a comfort factor of safety while providing tons of fun! Plus, it’s perfect for beginners. (Check with manufacturer for age requirements.) In addition, the Cradle of Aviation Museum hosted Vaughn’s unmanned aerial vehicles club for its first Tiny Whoop Contest in February.

2. Tinyhawk EMAX

Indoor drone racing has never been so much fun. The Tinyhawk EMAX is a micro indoor racing aircraft that has the perfect power-to-weight ratio. Here are some key features:

  • 75 mm indoor racing drone
  • 8 mm diameter brushless motors with durable ball bearings for increased flight time/performance and low maintenance
  • Durable polypropylene plastic frame with propeller guards
  • Motor beeper function to help locate after an unintentional landing
  • 25 mW video transmitter and 600 TV-line camera included

Best Outdoor Drone

3. Mavic Mini

When it comes to outdoor drones for beginners, the Mavic Mini is Kalaitzidis’ pick as the best all-around UAV. Weighing in at only a half-pound (249 g), the Mavic Mini places in the lowest and safest weight class of drones, which in some countries—like the US and Canada—make it exempt from certain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations such as having to register it with the government. Here are some fun facts about the Mavic Mini:

  • Operates through a smart device
  • Will follow you wherever you go
  • Maximum flight speed 13 m/s
  • Dedicated remote control included
  • Flies by itself
  • Built-in camera

Best First-Person View Drone

4. Tinyhawk 2

The EMAX Tinyhawk II is the ultimate racing drone. With the ability to reach speeds of 15 to 30 miles per hour based on the battery, this UAV is a dream to fly but is reserved only for established pilots who have a grasp on flying and protocols. Some key features of this outdoor drone include:

  • Perfect flight performance allows for navigation in a variety of situations
  • Nano 2 FPV camera takes pictures with crisp colors, wide dynamic range and sharp optics
  • Cleaner video
  • Increased power and faster propeller speeds
  • Adjustable camera mount allows pilots to customize preferred angle of flight
  • Redesigned durability with built-in throttle response LED system increases brightness

Best Semi-Professional Drone

5. Mavic 2 Zoom

For photography enthusiasts, the Mavic 2 Zoom captures everything you want in an outdoor drone. Its optical zoom capabilities and long-range time make it a top pick for taking outstanding photos and video. Plus, it can handle winds of up to 20 knots. Here are some key features:

  • Maximum speed of approximately 48 mph
  • Fly time of up to 31 minutes
  • Shoots 4K video at 100 Mbps
  • Zoom lens allows for perfect compositions from a farther distance
  • Ability to change the field of view for a dramatic look
  • 4x lossless zoom when shooting Full HD videos

Vaughn’s Take on Drone Safety

Operating a drone is a privilege. It comes with great responsibility, along with the education and understanding of operation within the FAA guidelines. Keeping the world’s safest and most efficient aerospace is the FAA’s primary mission—and indoor or outdoor drones are part of that responsibility. Are you interested in becoming a drone pilot? Here are some ways to get involved:

  • Enroll in a drone course: Drone Laws and Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems
  • Join the Vaughn UAV Club

Here are some reasons why students are encouraged to take our drone course:

  • To acquire a better understanding of controlled and uncontrolled airspace
  • To understand weather patterns and how it impacts flying
  • To learn about aerodynamic issues
  • To gain the power of professionalism

Whether you want to design and build drones, become a drone pilot or pursue an aviation career, Vaughn College has the courses you need to help you get to where you want to be.

“Drones are a pivotal part of our future,” said Kalaitzidis. “Although the engineering of UAVs is still in its infancy, teaching our younger generation about it now is key. It helps them to think about engineering before they even know what it is. Flying drones is a great way to get them thinking out of the box now to fuel their passion for the future.”

Discover all that’s possible with an engineering or aviation degree from Vaughn.