A comparison of mapping drones

When acquiring a mapping or surveying drone, the choice is quickly narrowed to a fixed-wing airplane for its vastly greater range, combined with Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) for its versatility and ease of use. Within this segment, there are several commercial-grade solutions of European origin. But understanding their capabilities and limitations can be difficult.

We have asked a team of researchers to dive deep into all the relevant aspects of the leading manufacturers. The comparison goes into great detail to provide organizations with the necessary information to be able to make a decision on which mapping UAV best suits their needs. The research includes everything you will need in order to make a buying decision for a mapping drone.

The platforms chosen for this comparison are

  • The DeltaQuad Pro #MAP by Vertical Technologies
  • The WingtraOne by Wingtra
  • The Trinity F90+ by Quantum Systems
  • The Marlyn by AtmosUAV
  • The eBee X by SenseFly

In the first section, you will find a quick overview of the most critical aspects relevant to any mapping or surveying solution. After that, you will find a full list comparing every known and relevant specification. Finally, the analysis includes a list of sources and references so that you may verify the objectivity of this comparison.

Quick rundown of leading mapping UAV's

A quick rundown of the most critical aspects of the leading mapping UAV platforms on the market today.

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Product image
Max. flight time At sea level with camera payload 110 minutes 59 minutes 90 minutes 50 minutes 60/90 minutes
Coverage at 3cm/px The coverage is calculated by multiplying the maximum flight distance by the maximum camera resolution. It is based on 3CM per pixel with an overlap of 50% 1200HA 450HA 800HA 360HA 220HA/500HA
Precision <1CM <1CM 2-5CM <1CM >3CM
Control range 20KM/30KM/50kM/Unlimited 10KM 7KM 7KM/20KM 8KM
Max resolution 61 Megapixel 42 Megapixel 42 Megapixel 42 Megapixel 24 Megapixel
Live video Displays a live HD video stream of the mapping camera during flight on the Ground Control Station.

This feature is usefull to verify the camera payload is functioning and set correctly
X X X X
Swappable payloads X
Comparative package price To compare pricing a package was selected for each model that most closely resembles:

- 42MP camera
- 1CM PPK (if available)
- 2 Batteries
- Standard radio solution
- Ground Control Station (if available)
42MP: € 19.593,00
61MP: € 20.993,00
42MP: € 29.600,00 42MP: € 21.990,00 42MP: € 29.450,00 24MP: € 22.550,00

Maximum surveying area in Hectares

The maximum area that can be mapped in a single flight is determined by several factors such as camera resolution, cruise speed, endurance, and lens options. This comparison is based on the highest resolution offered for each platform, combined with the maximum flight distance.

The values have been calculated based on 3cm per pixel resolution and a 50% image overlap.

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP 1200Ha
Trinity F90+ 800Ha
eBee X 500Ha
WingtraOne 450Ha
Marlyn 360Ha

Maximum telemetry range

The maximum range at which the UAV can be controlled. Long-range communications is important for corridor-type surveys such as power lines, pipelines, railways, and roads.

For most UAVs, this value is limited due to the use of a short-range analog remote control unit. The DeltaQuad Pro #MAP can be equipped with an integrated touch-screen remote controller to provide both manual control and mission control. Using the booster package a range of up to 50KM can be achieved. With the included 4G/LTE mobile network as a backup link, it can even be controlled for an unlimited range.

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP 50KM
Marlyn 20KM
WingtraOne 10KM
eBee X 8KM
Trinity F90+ 7KM

Maximum image resolution

The maximum image resolution is an important factor for a fixed-wing/VTOL UAV.
A higher resolution allows:

– Covering larger areas 
– Flying at higher altitudes for safety and efficiency
– Producing higher resolution end results
– Better post-processing performance with more accuracy

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP 61 Megapixel
Marlyn 42 megapixel
WingtraOne 42 Megapixel
Trinity F90+ 42 Megapixel
eBee X 24 Megapixel

Maximum multispectral resolution

The maximum resolution per band for multispectral sensor
A higher resolution allows:

– Covering larger areas 
– Flying at higher altitudes for safety and efficiency
– Producing higher resolution end results
– Better post-processing performance with more accuracy

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP 12 Megapixel
Marlyn 3.2 megapixel
WingtraOne 3.2 Megapixel
Trinity F90+ 3.2 Megapixel
eBee X 1.2 Megapixel

Maximum flight time

The maximum flight time for fixed-wing UAV depends on the altitude above sea level. As the altitude increases, the UAVs need to fly faster due to a lower air density. However, the lower air density also provides less drag, therefor in most cases the maximum flight distance remains the same at all altitudes.

The indicated maximum flight times are at sea level.

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP 110 Minutes
Trinity F90+ 90 Minutes
eBee X 90 Minutes
WingtraOne 59 Minutes
Marlyn 50 Minutes

In-depth mapping drone comparison

In this section, all aspects of the selected platforms are compared. Most aspects are based on the published specifications by the manufacturers. Some aspects were derived or calculated. When an aspect shows an info icon, you can hover or tap for more information on what this aspect means or how it was calculated.

Platform specifications

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Country of Origin The Netherlands Switzerland Germany The Netherlands Switzerland
Redundant VTOL: A seperated system for fixed-wing and hover flight offering flight redundancy for failsafe landings

Tailsitter VTOL: A winged UAV with 2 or 4 motors that takes off and lands on its tail without redundancy

Tiltrotor VTOL: A fixed-wing that tilts it's 3 motors to multirotor flight without redundancy

Fixed-wing: A hand launched airplane without vertical takeoff/landing and without redundancy
Platform type
Redundant VTOL VTOL tailsitter VTOL tiltrotor VTOL tailsitter Fixed-wing
At sea level with camera payloadCruise speed 16m/s 16m/s 17m/s 14m/s 11m/s
At sea level with camera payloadMax. flight time 110 minutes 59 minutes 90 minutes 50 minutes 60/90 minutes
The maximum flight distance is calculated by multiplying the cruise speed by the max flight time, and reducing the value by 10% to accomodate for takeoff and landing.

The calculation was done as not all manufacturers use the same method for specifying the maximum flight distance.
Max. flight distance
100KM 50KM 90KM 40KM 55KM
Payload capacity 1200G 800G 700G 800G 800G
Radio range 20KM/30KM/50kM/Unlimited 10KM 7KM 7KM/20KM 8KM
Displays a live HD video stream of the mapping camera during flight on the Ground Control Station.

This feature is usefull to verify the camera payload is functioning and set correctly
Live mapping video
X X X X
Zero pre-flight calibrations means there are no actions required before every flight. This decreases the setup time and makes operating the vehicle easier.Zero pre-flight calibrations X X X
VPN secured mobile internet communication, serving as a backup link when flying beyond radio range. The link type can seamlessly be switched between Radio or LTE, and provides vehicle control, manual control and video transmission over either link.

The use of this feature is optional.
4G/LTE support
X X X X
A First Person View (FPV) camera is installed in the nose of the vehicle. This provides live video on the Ground Control Station for situational awareness and increased safety. The video stream on the Ground Control Station can be switched between the main (mapping) camera and the nose camera.FPV video support X X X X
The ability to interchange the supported payloadsSwappable payloads X
Supported cameras 61MP - Sony A7R-IV
42MP - Sony A7R-III
42MP - Sony RX1R-II
24MP - Sony A6000
Agrowing 12MP multispectral
Micasense RedEdge-MX
Micasense Altum
Flir Duo Pro R
20MP - Sony QX1
42MP - Sony RX1R II
Micasense RedEdge-MX
MicaSense Altum
20MP - Sony UMC
42MP - Sony RX1R II
MicaSense RedEdge-MX
MicaSense Altum
42MP - Sony RX1RII
42MP - Sony A7C
Micasense RedEdge-MX
Micasense Altum
24MP - SenseFly AreaX
20MP - SenseFly S.O.D.A.
Parrot Sequoia
MicaSense RedEdge MX

Mapping performance

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Maximum image resolution 61 Megapixel 42 Megapixel 42 Megapixel 42 Megapixel 24 Megapixel
The coverage is calculated by multiplying the maximum flight distance by the maximum camera resolution. It is based on 3CM per pixel with an overlap of 50%Coverage at 3cm/px 1200HA 450 Ha 800HA 360HA 220HA/500HA
The maximum distance the UAV can fly away from the operator, and return home. The values are limited by the maximum radio rangeMaximum corridor length 50KM 5KM 7KM 20KM 8KM
The lowest Ground Sampling Distance the UAV can achieve with 50% overlap. These values were calculated based on the minimum altitude required to achieve 50% overlap and remain within the minimum trigger time of the camera. Combined with the maximum camera resolution this provides a uniform method of comparing the lowest ground resolution

The values are indicated in centimeters per pixel.
Lowest GSD
0.4 CM/PX 0.7CM/PX 0.7CM/PX 0,85CM/PX 1.5CM/PX

RTK/PPK setup

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Precision <1CM <1CM 2-5CM <1CM >3CM
This indicated wether or not the manufacturer offers the option of including a PPK/RTK base station with the UAV. A base station is usually required for CM level mapping with PPK or RTK solutionsBase station available X X

Software features

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Smart mission planning automatically generates flight paths based on a desired surveying area.Smart mission planning
A smart validation system checks the mission plan for any inconsistencies. It provides critical warnings such as unsafe flight, bad weather conditions or unfeasable mission plans. It also provides tips to optimize results.Smart mission plan validation X X X X
Flight Simulator X X X
Terrain following X
Fully automated takeoff and landing without any need for manual control inputAutomated takeoff & land X X

Safety features

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
When flight systems for fixed-wing and hover flight are seperated, a redundant flight systems allows for automatic fallback recovery in the event of a failureRedundant flight system X X X X
ADS-B can detect and avoid most manned aviation. This is often required for certified operation and improves overall safetyADS-B X
A First Person View (FPV) nose camera feed provides the operator with a pilot view of the vehicle during flight. This improves situational awareness and flight safetyLive nose camera (FPV) X X X X

Tolerances

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Limited by cruise speed, and reduced with 5 meters per second for mapping.

This value should be based on sea level as wind tolerance increases at higher altitudes. It seems that not all suppliers are listing these values at sea level
Maximum wind
45 km/h 40 km/h 43 km/h 45KM/h 35 km/h
Max. takeoff & landing wind 33 km/h 30 km/h 33 km/h
(25km/h above 1500m)
45KM/h (unverified) 35km/h
Max. Takeoff Altitude 4000M 2500m 4000m 4000m 5000m
Temperature range -20 to +45 C -10 to +40 C -12 to +50 C -10 to +40 C -15 to + 40C
The ability to fly in rain or snow is limited by the use of an Airspeed Sensor. The DeltaQuad does not use an airspeed sensor allowing it to fly in rainy or snowy conditionsWeather conditions Clear
Light rain
Light snow
Clear Clear Clear Clear

Handling

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Assembly and pre-flight calibration time was either specified and/or determined by watching operation videos for different platforms.Setup time 1 minute 5 minutes 7 minutes 5 minutes 10 minutes
Controller image
Integrated controllers provide mission planning and manual control on the same device. The DeltaQuad Controller can wirelessly connect to a Laptop or Tablet and provide an additional control link.

Analog controllers are seperate devices that are required to operate the vehicle in addition to a Ground Control Station.
Control type
Integrated touch-screen controller with mission planning, live video, and manual control joysticks Analog controller Analog controller Analog controller Analog controller
Integrated controllers use the same datalink for manual override, telemetry, and live video.

Analog controllers generally use separate radio systems with limited range.
Manual control range
Up to 50KM / Unlimited 3KM (estimated) 1KM (estimated) 3KM (estimated) 1KM (specified)
Ground Control Station Options Integrated controller
Tablet
Field laptop
Command center integration
Tablet Not included
A laptop is required to operate
Not included
A laptop is required to operate
Not included
A laptop is required to operate
Autonomy Full autonomous
Autonomous mapping
Autonomous takeoff
Autonomous landing
Full autonomous
Autonomous mapping
Autonomous takeoff
Autonomous landing
Semi autonomous
Autonomous mapping
Autonomous takeoff
Manual landing
Full autonomous
Autonomous mapping
Autonomous takeoff
Autonomous landing
Semi autonomous
Autonomous mapping
Manual takeoff
Manual landing
The ability to control the UAV using joystick control. Assisted control means that no pilot skills are required to operate the vehicle in manual override mode. Regular manual control requires a skilled drone pilot for operation.Manual override Assisted manual control in fixed wing and hover flight Manual control in fixed wing and hover flight Assisted manual control in hover flight only Manual control in fixed wing and hover flight Manual control in fixed wing only
Takeoff weight 6.2 Kg 4.5 kg 5.0KG 6.7KG 1.6KG
Wing span 235 cm 125 cm 239CM 160CM 116CM

Costs comparison

Pricing for the most resembling packages
DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Package contents UAV
2 batteries
1CM PPK
42MP Sony RX1RII
20KM radio link
Tablet
UAV
2 batteries
1CM PPK
42MP Sony RX1RII
10KM radio link
Tablet
UAV
2 batteries
3CM PPK
42MP Sony RX1RII
7KM radio link
UAV
2 batteries
1CM PPK
42MP Sony RX1RII
7KM radio link
UAV
2 batteries
3CM PPK
24MP Sensefly AreaX
8KM radio link
Comparative package price To compare pricing a package was selected for each model that most closely resembles:

- 42MP camera
- 1CM PPK (if available)
- 2 Batteries
- Standard radio solution
- Ground Control Station (if available)
€ 19.593,00 € 29.600,00 € 21.990,00 € 29.450,00 € 22.550,00

Options & Pricing

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Platform price € 9.999,00 € 15.755,89 € 15.900,00 € 16.950,00 € 14.000,00 (90KM)
Battery € 499,00 € 420,00 € 640,00 unknown € 400
PPK 3CM € 899,00 not available included not available € 4.950
PPK base station 3CM € 1.000,00 not available included not available € 5.350
PPK 1CM € 1.299,00 included not available € 7.500 estimated not available
PPK base station 1CM € 2.600,00 not available not available not available not available
Transmission System 20KM+Tablet: € 1.299
30KM+integrated controller: € 3.499
50KM+integrated controller: € 5.499
10KM+Tablet: included 7KM: included 7KM: +- € 1.000
20KM: unknown
7KM: included
Live mapping and FPV video Included with integrated controller not available not available not available not available
4G/LTE control and video Included with integrated controller not available not available not available not available
61MP sensor (sony A7R4) € 6.699,00 not available not available not available not available
42MP sensor (sony RX1RII) € 5.299,00 € 6.500,00 € 5.450,00 +- € 7.000 not available
20MP/24MP sensor € 1.299,00 € 2.100,00 € 2.290,00 not available € 3.600
Micasense Rededge MX
with DLS & calibration panel
€ 7.299,00 € 5.900 (without DLS) € 6.890,00 +- € 8.000 +- € 8.000
Micasense Altum
with DLS & calibration panel
€ 12.999,00 € 12.100,00 € 12.750,00 +- € 13.000 not available
Flir Duo Pro R € 7.900,00 not available not available not available not available
Lidar + software under development not available € 60.000,00 not available not available

Sources

DeltaQuad Pro #MAP WingtraOne Trinity F90+ Marlyn eBee X
Pricing DeltaQuad configurator Wingtra Configurator Price list Quotation Reseller
Specifications DeltaQuad specifications Wingtra specifications Start guide
User manual
Spec list GeoMatching SenseFly specs
User manual

Download

This publication is available for download in PDF file format.
Mapping drone comparison

Disclaimer

The data in this comparison has been carefully verified across multiple sources. Should you find any inconsistency, please feel free to contact us.
No rights can be derived from this data.