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Are Autel Drones Any Good? (You Might Be Surprised)

10 mins
Drone Blog
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Autel Robotics is a Chinese company with its headquarters in Washington State. The company began in 2014 with the goal of creating products based on customer needs. The drone market is always changing, and Autel Robotics has done its best to keep up with the change.

The company has been around for a few years, and although they are by no means at the top of the market when it comes to UAVs, its products are much better than many people believe.

Why Autel? #

One benefit that you may see in the Autel products is that although the mother company is in China, the product is certified as manufactured in the USA. The reason is that the company saw an opportunity in the market because of the demand for locally based products.

This was especially the case for government agencies and offices. Consumer businesses may not require a drone made in the USA, but it is one other thing to consider when looking at Autel products.

Another benefit to Autel drones in the United States market has to do with the heavy restrictions on airspace by the FAA. The FAA restricts drone flights to certain areas due to safety issues and concerns for manned aircraft and people in certain areas.

Every pilot can apply for flight waivers and documents to allow them to fly in certain areas. However, DJI and other smaller drone companies may restrict the drone itself to disable it completely in those areas in a technology called geofencing.

» MORE: Do DJI Drones Have Geofencing?

This can be frustrating when you have a job within an area that is typically restricted, but you have obtained a waiver for a particular time or height to fly safely.

Autel does not have these restrictions on their drones, which makes a pilot’s job more difficult to identify restricted zones themselves, but it allows for freedom when flying in areas that are temporarily accessible for whatever reason.

» MORE: Do Autel Drones Have Geofencing?

There are currently six different styles of drones made at Autel robotics, each with a specific design to fit unique customer needs. Three of these models are geared toward a consumer market, and three are made for commercial and enterprise use.

Both types of drones are incredible for what they are made for, and their designs are easy to learn and use. From a miniature drone for beginners to a massive fixed-wing aircraft, Autel has created products for everyone, but which one is right for you?

Autel Consumer Drones #

In 2018, Autel released its first consumer drone that was widely available to the public. The EVO series was created to perform to the same or better level than DJI’s most impressive drones at the time.

The EVO series was a compact and light option for any videographer / photographer. It was available starting at $999 and was Autel Robotics’ first step into the consumer drone market.

Ever since the release and immediate success of the EVO series, the company hasn’t stopped building similar products while improving all the way.

Today there are multiple options for all levels of pilots, and each one competes with the best drones like it on the market.

Autel EVO II #

As far as consumer drones come, the Autel EVO II Pro is one of the best, but it is also the most expensive.

Not only does the drone come with an impressive 4K camera with huge flexibility when it comes to settings, but the other additions to the model offer quite the package.

The EVO II Pro has 360-degree obstacle avoidance, dynamic track capabilities, a 40-minute max flight time, and a max speed of 45mph. All of these upgrades and more in one drone are available starting at $2,500.

This drone is a great addition for any pilot looking to add another drone or for a beginner looking to try something new. With a foldable design, the EVO II Pro is small and can be brought on almost any adventure while still packing a punch when it comes to video.

Check out the Autel Robotics website to learn more about this drone model.

The EVO II Pro is a drone with great capabilities, but it may not be the drone you are looking for. Autel also manufactures a smaller EVO Lite series and the smallest EVO nano series.

Each of these models allows for flexible uses and gives every kind of pilot a chance to fly one of these drones.

If you are in the market to purchase one of these drones, below is a comparison of the EVO II Pro and the EVO Lite. The Nano option also has a description, but it falls into a different category and therefore does not need a detailed comparison.

Autel EVO II vs. Autel Lite+ #

The EVO Lite series—released in January of this year— offers an alternative to the EVO II series. Although it is smaller, it does compete with the larger Pro version if the price is considered.

If you were to compare these two models to their DJI counterparts, the EVO II would be closer to the Mavic Pro series, while the EVO lite is closer to the Mavic Air series.

There are a few important differences to note before making a purchase.

Camera #

The EVO Lite has the same size 1” CMOS sensor but has only 12mp compared to 20 in the EVO II Pro. Although the megapixel count is important, it is not the determining factor between good and bad photos.

The EVO lite allows in-camera panoramas and a better quality of video capture.

Performance #

There are a few differences between the drones regarding what they can accomplish aside from the camera.

Both drones have the same flight time of 40 minutes. The EVO Lite is able to fly more than double the length of the EVO II Pro, but the Pro has intelligent flight modes while the Lite does not.

They both have obstacle avoidance, but the Lite does not have sensors on the side of the drone.

Price #

The price is a simple matter, but it does need to be discussed as it may be what makes your final decision in purchasing one or the other.

At the list price, the EVO Lite starts at $1,549.00, which includes the drone, controller, one battery and cables associated, and two replacement propellers.

The premium bundle includes 3 batteries, a carrying case, and plenty of replacement parts for $1,849.00.

The EVO II Pro is a more expensive option and is currently only available with one bundle called the rugged bundle.

More options are most likely on their way, but only one bundle (not refurbished) can be purchased for the EVO II Pro at $2,500.00.

This bundle includes the drone and controller, one battery and charger, and a hard carrying case.

Both of these drones are powerful options for any content creator or small business owner. Each one has its own design and specialties, but it all depends on personal preference, and you need to make a final decision.

The EVO Lite can fly farther, but the EVO II Pro has specialized flight modes. All of this and the factors discussed above should be considered when making a new purchase.

EVO Nano #

The biggest reason for the EVO Nano series existing is because it falls under the category of drones that do not need to be registered with the FAA.

The reason for this is that every drone over 250g needs to be registered with a number to identify it. The EVO Nano comes in at 249g, which means that it does not need to be registered.

However, that does not mean you can go buy one and start flying without any prior training or learning. Two exams exist in the United States that are required for those flying drones. One is for commercial drone use, and the other is for recreational.

» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots

The FAA provides both tests and helps pilots understand the rules and regulations involved with safe flight in this country.

» MORE: What Is the TRUST Test?

There are two options for the EVO Nano, the EVO Nano, and the EVO Nano+. These two drones are similar in size, but their cameras are slightly different.

The EVO Nano comes with a 1/2″ sensor and 48mp camera. The Nano+ has the same megapixel count, but has a slightly larger sensor coming in at 1/1.28 CMOS sensor.

Both are impressive on a drone as small as this one, but the + model has the larger sensor and larger price tag. The nano starts at $799.00, and the nano+ starts at 1,099.00. This price is the base model that comes with the drone, controller, and one battery.

Both drones come equipped with 3-directional obstacle avoidance systems, intelligent flight modes, approximately 30 minutes of flight time, and an HDR option for lower light conditions and day-to-day shooting.

This series of drones offers beginners the chance to start somewhere small on their drone career as well as experienced pilots the drone to take anywhere.

Autel Enterprise Options #

Over the past 10 years, the UAS market has evolved dramatically. DJI is the company in the industry with the strongest hold on the market, with over 70% of the market share. Most of this percentage comes from consumer-based drones.

This has caused numerous companies in the United States—including Autel—to transition to more professional models.

EVO II Enterprise #

The EVO II enterprise­­ (released in 2021) is one of these new models.

This drone is the same build as the consumer model but has a unique and improved camera. It boasts an impressive 16x digital zoom, 8-mile transmission range, 360-degree obstacle avoidance, a 1” CMOS sensor, and thermal camera option.

With all these additions, the EVO II is an impressive drone for the professional market, increasing efficiency in public safety and rescue operations.

Enterprise drones are taking the market by storm, and Autel has joined the party with this impressive model. Whether it be for search and rescue or a daily inspection, this drone is up to the task. With a flight time of 42 minutes and a range of 8 miles, this tool has a wide variety of functions.

The accessories that come with this drone are what make it even more impressive a product. It includes a strobe light, speaker, RTK adapter, and two-way speaker. These additions can help professionals in certain circumstances, making this drone even better.

Dragonfish #

The final drone on the market for Autel drones is the Dragonfish series. This drone is a large fixed-wing aircraft with propellers for both vertical and horizontal flight.

The Dragonfish series comes in three models: the lite, standard, and pro versions. Each has a varying size, flight time, and camera accessories. Each one is used for different missions, which include inspections, law enforcement and other surveillance, agricultural monitoring, etc.

The three models have massive flight times, starting at 81 minutes for the lite and 158 minutes with the pro. This extended flight time allows for uninterrupted missions and continuous flights for longer projects or those that are farther away.

The camera on the Dragonfish series can reach up to 50x optical zoom and 240x hybrid zoom, which allows pilots to see a project without reaching it completely. Using the zoom features, details can be seen over 2km from the drone’s position.

The Dragonfish drone is on a different level for professionals trying to complete specific tasks which require the use of a drone for long periods at a stretch.

The price is unavailable to the public without a reason to purchase, but it certainly reaches beyond the previous models discussed in this article.

Conclusion #

To conclude, Autel is a robotics company building drones in the United States to satisfy every need pilots may have. The company’s goal is to use the knowledge of drone uses to make them happen with a design and model that will help everyone involved.

From consumer drones used to take a family selfie to fixed-wing aircraft that can be used to fly over 18 miles for surveillance missions, Autel is doing its best to provide for every need.

When it comes down to it, Autel robotics makes incredible products that work for a variety of tasks and compete with the best drones on the market.


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