Drones equipped with infrared cameras, also known as thermal imaging drones, have become valuable tools in various industries. These cameras capture thermal data that are invisible to the naked eye. This makes thermal imaging drones useful for a wide range of applications, such as search and rescue, precision agriculture, and building inspections. These drones can also be used for security and surveillance by law enforcement agencies and other emergency services. The ability to capture images and footage in low light conditions makes them ideal for many situations where traditional cameras fall short.
Uses Of Drones With Infrared Cameras
Drones equipped with infrared cameras have various uses across various industries and applications. Some of the most common uses include:
1. Search & Rescue
One of the most critical uses of thermal imaging drones is in search and rescue operations. These drones can quickly scan large areas to detect heat signatures from people or animals, even in complete darkness. This can significantly increase the chances of finding missing persons promptly.
Thermal imaging drones can also be used to search for survivors in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, as they can detect heat signatures through rubble and debris.
These drones can provide valuable information about survivors’ location and help rescuers prioritise their search efforts.
The ability of these drones to detect and track heat signatures, even under challenging conditions such as low light, night-time, or inclement weather, makes them well-suited for search and rescue operations.
DJI have developed an interactive map that displays many successful search and rescue operations that have been aided by the use of drone technology, check out the map.
2. Precision Agriculture
Another important use of thermal imaging drones is in precision agriculture. These drones can survey crops and detect areas of stress, such as pests or diseases. This can allow farmers to quickly identify and treat problem areas, increasing crop yields and reducing the need for harmful chemicals. Thermal imaging drones can also be used to monitor livestock, detecting any signs of illness or injury.
On a side note, drones, in general, are having a massive impact on precision agriculture. Whether the drone is attached with a high-resolution RGB, infrared or multispectral camera, the speed and efficiency with which drones can collect data allows for accurate data analysis and improved decision-making, which will lead to better crop yield, and less waste while reducing overall costs.
Drones are also being used for precision planting and spraying pesticides and fertilisers, which are proving to be faster and more effective than traditional methods.
3. Inspection & Maintenance
Thermal imaging drones are also becoming increasingly popular in building inspections. These drones can quickly scan the exterior of a building, detecting any areas of heat loss or insulation issues. Thermal imaging drones can also be used to inspect the interior of buildings, such as checking the temperature of electrical equipment or identifying water leaks.
Some of the most common uses of drones in building inspection include:
- Roof Inspection
- Building Inspection
- Tower Inspection
- Bridge Inspection
- Dam Inspection
- Powerline Inspection
- Inspection of Gas & Oil rigs
- Inspection for Safety and Compliance
Inspection with drones can be done quickly and safely without the need for scaffolding or other equipment.
Drones can inspect buildings in various ways, from capturing high-resolution images to using thermal imaging cameras to detect abnormal heat signatures. These technologies allow detailed inspections to be conducted quickly, safely, and cost-effectively.
4. Fighting Wildfires
One of the main advantages of using thermal imaging drones for wildfire management is their ability to detect and locate hotspots, even in limited visibility. These drones can be used to survey large areas of land quickly and provide real-time information about the location and size of a hotspot.
Hotspots are areas where the fire is still burning but may not be visible from the ground. Detecting these hotspots is critical for ensuring that a wildfire is fully contained, as hotspots can reignite and cause a wildfire to spread.
Another application of thermal imaging drones in wildfire management is for reconnaissance and surveillance. Drones can be used to survey the area, identify hazards, and provide real-time information to firefighters about the fire’s location, the terrain’s condition, and other critical information that can help keep firefighters safe and make informed decisions.
Thermal imaging drones can also monitor the effectiveness of firefighting efforts. These drones can detect and measure temperature changes in the area, providing information about how well the fire is being contained and helping to identify areas where additional firefighting resources may be needed.
5. Surveillance & Security
Drones have become an essential tool in surveillance and security, allowing for monitoring large areas and detecting potential threats. Their ability to access hard-to-reach areas and capture high-resolution and thermal images makes them an ideal solution for a wide range of surveillance and security applications.
Some of the most common uses of drones in surveillance and security include:
Border Surveillance: Drones can monitor borders, including coastlines, to detect and deter illegal activities such as smuggling and human trafficking.
Law Enforcement: Law enforcement agencies can use drones to monitor high-crime areas, search for suspects, and assist with crowd control.
Critical Infrastructure Protection: Drones can be used to monitor and protect critical infrastructure, such as power plants, dams, and transportation hubs.
Event Security: Drones can be used to provide surveillance and security at large events, such as concerts and festivals.
Best Drones With Infrared Cameras
All the drones on this list are high-performance industrial-grade drones designed for a wide range of professional applications. They are equipped with advanced features that makes them suitable for surveying, mapping, inspection, and search and rescue operations.
The DJI M30T is a commercial drone widely used in various industries such as inspection, surveying, mapping, search and rescue, etc. It has many advanced features that make it a powerful tool for capturing high-quality videos and images. The multisensor payload on the drone includes a 12MP wide camera, a 48MP zoom camera with 16x optical zoom, a thermal imaging camera, and a laser range finder. There is also an FPV night vision camera for safer night-time missions.
The drone also comes with obstacle avoidance sensors on all sides, which provides a safer flying experience. Additionally, the drone includes an ADS-B receiver, which allows for real-time tracking and location data. These features provide safety and security for the drone and its operator.
In terms of performance, the DJI M30T has a flight time of 41 minutes, a wind resistance of 33mph, and an IP55 rating, which means it can withstand dust, water and other harsh conditions. The transmission range of the drone is 15km, and its top speed is 51mph, which makes it ideal for long-distance flights and BVLOS operations. The DJI M30T is a powerful and versatile commercial drone that can be used for various applications and industries.
DJI 300 RTK
The Matrice 300 RTK has a maximum flight time of 55 minutes and can carry a payload of up to 2.7kg. This allows it to carry a variety of cameras and sensors, such as the DJI Zenmuse H20T, which combines a thermal camera, a standard camera and a laser rangefinder. The drone is also compatible with third-party payloads for even more commercial use cases.
This drone can fly in winds up to 33.5 mph and can be operated in harsh weather conditions including in the rain, thanks to its IP45 rating.
The Matrice 300 RTK is equipped with advanced safety features such as omnidirectional obstacle avoidance sensors, an ADS-B receiver, an enhanced redundancy system and an anti-collision beacon. The drone comes with a variety of intelligent flight modes, such as WayPoint and ActiveTrack, which allows the drone to autonomously fly along a pre-planned flight path or follow and track a moving target.
The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is a powerful and versatile drone designed for professional use. Its advanced features, such as the RTK module, a wide range of payload options, and its advanced flight control system, make it well-suited for a wide range of industrial applications.
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced
This drone is a more advanced version of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom. It is equipped with a range of advanced features that make it well-suited for complex industrial applications.
One of the most notable features of the Mavic 2 Advanced Enterprise is its advanced dual camera system. The drone has a 48MP camera and a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor, allowing it to capture high-resolution images and video with excellent colour accuracy and detail. The camera also features a 3-axis gimbal stabilisation system that ensures smooth and stable footage, even in challenging conditions. Additionally, the drone also comes with a thermal imaging camera that has a 640×512 resolution with a 30hz frame rate, 16× zoom and has a temperature accuracy of ±2°C.
The drone is equipped with DJI’s advanced flight control system, which includes obstacle avoidance sensors and a variety of intelligent flight modes such as WayPoint, ActiveTrack, and Point Of Interest. The M2EA also comes with an automatic return-to-home feature, DJI AirSense, for safer flight operations and has a flight time of 31 minutes. For extra functionality, the drone can be equipped with an RTK module for surveying and mapping, a spotlight and speakers for search and rescue operations and an anti-collision beacon for safer flying.
DJI Mavic 3T
The Mavic 3T is a highly versatile drone that is designed for commercial use. It has a multisensor payload that includes a high-resolution wide camera, a zoom camera and a thermal imaging sensor. This allows it to capture detailed images and data from various perspectives, making it an ideal tool for tasks such as search & rescue, inspection and public safety operations.
One of the most impressive features of the Mavic 3T is its flight time. With a battery life of up to 45 minutes, it can stay in the air for longer than many commercial drones. This allows it to cover large areas or complete more complex missions without needing to land and recharge as frequently.
Another key feature of the drone is its long-range transmission capability. It can transmit live video and other data up to 15km away, giving operators great flexibility and control over the drone. This is particularly useful when the drone needs to fly over long distances or in remote areas.
The drone is equipped with advanced obstacle-avoidance technology, automatically detecting and avoiding obstacles in its path. This makes operating in crowded or complex environments much safer and reduces the risk of collisions.
Autel Evo Dual 640T
One of the most notable features of the Evo 640T is its advanced imaging capabilities. The drone is equipped with a 640 ×512 thermal sensor, which provides high-resolution thermal imaging and a wide temperature range, making it ideal for a wide range of industrial applications. The Evo 640T also has a 1/1.28-inch RGB camera that can capture 50MP images and record 4k video footage.
The Evo 640T has a maximum flight time of 38 minutes, can fly in winds up to 39 mph, and operate in temperatures ranging from -10°C to 40°C. This drone is also equipped with a 360° obstacle avoidance system and comes with a variety of intelligent flight modes for easier navigation.
The drone has multiple modes for measuring temperature, including spot, Regional and Central measurements. There is also a feature that allows users to set a temperature range that will alert them when a specific temperature range is detected. Users get access to a powerful temperature analysis tool that will allow them to edit images, create detailed reports, and share them with relevant parties.
The Autel Evo 640T is a powerful and versatile drone designed for professional use. Its advanced features, such as the thermal sensor, a 4K visual camera and its advanced flight control system, make it well-suited for a wide range of industrial applications. Its ability to withstand harsh environments makes it easy to operate and an ideal tool for various industries such as construction, energy, public safety and emergency response.
Autel Max 4T
This is the latest commercial drone from Autel Robotics. The drone is similar in design and features to the DJI M30T. It’s a robust drone with a compact foldable design and has been built to be operated in any weather conditions. The drone is packed with advanced features, making it a fantastic choice for many commercial applications.
The drone comes with a multisensor payload that includes two RGB cameras, an infrared camera and a laser range finder. The infrared camera has 640×512 resolution with 16× digital zoom and can measure heat signatures between -20°C – 550°C.
Other advanced features include a sophisticated obstacle avoidance system that uses binocular vision and radar technology that eliminates nearly all blind spots making it suitable for use in low visibility conditions.
The drone uses AI recognition technology to lock on multiple targets and track them from a high altitude. This technology is helpful for law enforcement and other emergency services for subject tracking and data collection.
The Autel Max 4T has anti-jam and anti-interference technology and uses AES-256 encryption for all files and flight logs.
The drone comes with the latest version of the Autel SkyLink technology for a video transmission range of 20km, which makes it great for BVLOS operations.
Parrot Anafi USA
The Parrot Anafi USA drone is a compact and lightweight drone specifically designed for use by government and public safety agencies in the United States. It is equipped with a high-resolution camera that can capture 21MP still images and 4k video footage. The drone also features an advanced thermal imaging FLIR BOSON sensor with a 320×256 resolution and can detect temperature ranges between -10°C – 180°C.
One of the key features of the Parrot Anafi USA drone is its compact and portable design. It is the lightest commercial drone and can be easily transported and deployed in a variety of situations. This makes it ideal for use in search and rescue, disaster response, and other emergencies.
It can fly up to 32 minutes with a single battery and can fly in winds up to 33 mph. The drone also has a range of safety features, such as automatic return-to-home and is IP53 certified, allowing it to be operated in heavy rain.
In conclusion, drones equipped with infrared cameras have various applications in various industries. From industrial inspections to search and rescue, these drones can capture high-quality data and images in different weather conditions, making them valuable tools for professionals. The thermal imaging capabilities of these drones allow for the detection of temperature variations and heat signatures, which is particularly useful in industries such as agriculture, construction and powerline inspections. Additionally, drones with infrared cameras can be used for search and rescue operations, as they can detect body heat and locate missing individuals in challenging-to-reach areas. As the technology continues to improve, the uses of drones with infrared cameras will likely expand, making them an increasingly valuable tool for professionals in a variety of fields.