Drones have become increasingly popular in recent years, both for personal and commercial use. They offer unique perspectives for photography and videography, as well as practical applications such as surveying, inspection and delivery. When shopping for a drone as a personal user, it’s important to consider factors such as camera quality, flight time, range, and ease of use before making a purchase. A drone buying guide can help you narrow down your options and find the best drone for your needs.
As the demand for drones continues to soar, it’s worth considering American-made options that deliver on innovation, quality, and reliability.
Since 2017, the U.S. government has increasingly restricted purchases of China-manufactured drones for federal use. Citing a risk to national security, these restrictions have put pressure on local UAV producers to fill the void left by Chinese-owned megaproducer, DJI.
Unfortunately for lawmakers, many federal organizations still maintain a large number of DJI drones. The world’s largest producer offers benefits that local competitors struggle to match. So, U.S. buyers hoping that American-made drones will replace Chinese UAVs should invest in national manufacturers.
To be classified as made in the USA, the Federal Trade Commission mandates that “all or virtually all” of the product is built within the states. In reality, most American top drone companies outsource some parts to other countries.
Still, supporting these manufacturers is a step toward building a powerful conglomerate of U.S. drone brands.
American Robotics specializes in making automated UAVs that can operate outside of a human’s line of sight. The company was the first to receive FAA clearance to perform this feat.
In August 2022, the FAA gave American Robotics an additional waiver granting unlimited use of commercial drone support services. To capitalize on this increased range, the company has invested in weatherproof charging stations, a fully autonomous UAV fleet, and advanced fleet management software.
Based in San Mateo, California, Skydio manufactures more drones than its national competitors. The brand rose to prominence by investing in AI-guided systems. It has used these systems to market itself as building the most technologically advanced drones in the world.
With UAVs like the follow-me drone Skydio 2+, the company has backed up its claims with quality products. Systems like these are ideal for high-end consumer and government use. Smart drones are the wave of the future, and Skydio is spearheading the tsunami.
AeroVironment is a California-based drone manufacturer that produces both civilian and government products. Currently, the company is focused on developing and promoting its military units. Its website has a section dedicated to explaining how its UAVs are assisting in the defense of Ukraine.
Over 50 allied nations have adopted AeroVironment tech, accumulating more than 4 million flight hours. Their military drones range from reconnaissance units to loitering missile systems. With a growing global presence, AeroVironment is positioned to become a top defense supplier around the world.
Founded in 1998, DraganFly has distinguished itself for decades by supplying high-quality imaging drones at an affordable price. Its marketing shows broad commercial application but highlights its products’ damage-mitigating potential.
Global buyers use DraganFly drones to film large areas to identify fire damage, wildlife status, and travelers needing rescue. In 2013, a DraganFly product became the first UAV to save a life after locating a man lost in the snow.
A subsidiary of the weapon manufacturing giant Boeing, Insistu brings the quality equipment associated with its parent company. The producer concentrates on delivering long-range UAVs that can precisely drop heavy payloads. Once the drone returns to base, Insistu offers a reliable connection to customer service support, regardless of the drone’s location.
Aero Systems West
Aero Systems West designs lifting drones capable of delivering packages in a wide variety of mission profiles. Their UAVs have a multi-rotor design that offers reliable stability when carrying heavy loads. And users can consistently use the drones’ carrying capacity, without worrying about a short lifespan.
Teal Drones advertises itself as an ideal choice for military and commercial users operating in tough environments. With a rugged design and encrypted video transmission, the Utah-based company is producing UAVs that live up to this marketing principle.
Its defense drones are primarily equipped with typically sensitive imaging equipment for reconnaissance. So, Teal Drones has staked its reputation on delivering a challenging product: a durable camera UAV.
Labeling itself as the brain for drones, AuterionGS focuses heavily on the software side of UAV technology. Its management platform is open-source, making it the largest drone open-source platform in the world.
This customizability is especially useful for government agencies that can invest in advanced specialization. AuterionGS’s UAV systems possess a combination of flexibility and centralization rarely found in their competitors.
Few companies offer the autonomy of Skyfish’s drones. The Montana-based company sells advanced flight planning and navigation software to guide its UAVs.
Designers may equip Skyfish drones with infrared viewing equipment for a more detailed view. Such advanced optics enable users to precisely monitor the structural integrity of critical infrastructure.
Vantage Robotics spearheaded a critical legal breakthrough that allowed drones to fly over crowds of people. In 2017, a Vantage Robotics product became the first UAV to receive permission from the FAA to travel over a group.
The California-based company has used this trustworthy label to sell products to many industries. Navy, Coast Guard, Army, and commercial clients use Vantage Robotic’s drones.
Zipline started producing drones designed to deliver medical supplies in rural Africa. It has since expanded its aims, partially by dropping Covid-19 supplies to North Carolina hospitals during the pandemic.
Zipline is currently the world’s largest drone service provider and delivers goods to businesses and towns around the globe.
While most drone manufacturers market themselves on their wide-scale viewing capabilities, Skypersonic has taken the opposite approach. Since 2014, the Michigan-based company has focused on building small, maneuverable drones that can observe tight spaces, inaccessible to most humans or machinery.
And Skypersonic UAVs have a durability that allows them to access locations too dangerous for humans to visit. This ability is invaluable to safety inspections in many industries.
The American drone industry is a diverse, growing conglomerate of companies that offers high-quality products for a variety of needs. A recent MarketsandMarkets research report predicts that the global drone market will develop at a CAGR of 23.8% over the next three years. With options ranging from high-powered strike UAVs to maneuverable industry surveillance units, it’s easy to see why America will be leading that trend.
1. American Robotics has earned FAA autonomy through its high-quality products.
2. Skydio crafts some of the world’s most technologically advanced UAVs.
3. AeroVironment produces military drones with proven combat effectiveness.
4. DraganFly offers relatively inexpensive high-quality imaging drones.
5. Insitu delivers the quality military systems associated with its parent company, Boeing.
6. Aero Systems West puts together stable delivery drones.
7. Teal Drones builds rugged, data-encrypted UAVs with reliable imaging.
8. AuterionGS focuses on developing its open-source, multi-faceted software.
9. Skyfish designs autonomous, infrastructure-inspecting drones.
10. Vantage Robotics crafts reliable UAVs for a variety of industries.
11. Zipline constructs delivery-focused units capable of carrying significant weight.
12. Skypersonic assembles small drones that can maneuver in tight spaces.