Top Thermal Cameras for Drones
Drones are great tools and gadgets. You can use them for professional purposes such as movie making and taking incredible aerial photos, or just as a hobby. Both of them are really great activities. But more than that the best thing about drones is the fact that you can enable them with different accessories. Therefore if you use the proper installations you can use it for science. For example, you can enable them with thermal cameras, which can be used in various day to day activities such as Power line inspection, Telecommunications tower inspection, Solar farm inspection, Building and roof inspection, Search and rescue, Firefighting, Pipeline inspection, Surveillance. But they are also a fun thing to use at your home as well. In this list, we will show you the Top Thermal Cameras for Drones
A quick word about thermal cameras. First of all, it’s rare to find a drone that comes pre-installed with a thermal camera. Being niche products, thermal cameras are usually sold only separately from drones. Thus, some of the items in this list may recommend either drone and camera bundles.
1. DJI Zenmuse XT2 for DJI M200 Series
The Zenmuse XT2 is a dual thermal and imaging camera. It was made as a result of the collaborative effort between DJI and FLIR. FLIR came with his thermal camera and DJI has brought his very own 4K imaging sensor. The Zenmuse XT2 can deliver an accurate live feed that displays both thermal imaging data and live video footage of what the drone is capturing. This is an extremely powerful and useful combination. The Zenmuse XT2 is compatible with the DJI Matrice drones like the 200 series, the Matrice 210 (RTK), and the Matrice 600 Pro.
DJI is well-known for all of the intelligent features on their drones. And luckily they’ve brought something into the Zenmuse XT2 thermal camera as well. First of all, you got HeatTrack mode which identifies the hottest spot in the camera’s field of view and follows it as it moves. The Temp Alarm feature is more of a scientific feature.
It allows the user to set a threshold temperature value and it will alarm you if the limit gets breached. And last but not least the QuickTrack mode identifies any subject in the camera’s view and tracks it around. These features can be a big help for a lot of scientific experiments and surveys. So after all drones aren’t just for fun, they are useful in other ways as well.
The camera is built with a thermal sensor with a 30 Hz refresh rate, up to 8x digital zoom, and IP44-rated construction. It provides an extraordinary level of situational awareness, which can come in handy in various emergency response situations.
2. FLIR Duo Pro R
The FLIR Duo Pro R is a dual-sensor camera from DJI and Yuneec. By combining a 4K camera with its special 640p radiometric thermal sensor, the Duo Pro R offers the ultimate imaging solution for dedicated drone pilots.
Like the Vue Pro R, the Duo Pro R is available in several variants, each of them with different resolution, a field of view, and refresh rate numbers. This way you can find the best option for your needs. It comes with lenses that are interchangeable and an Uncooled Vox Microbolometer thermal sensor. The standard tripod mount should provide compatibility with a wide range of professional-grade drones like the DJI M200 series or the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise.
Inside this compact device, there is an array of sensors, including an accelerometer, magnetometer, IMU, barometer, and GPS receiver. It’s incredible how the manufacturers were able to fit all these features into this little drone camera. If you want to create orthomosaics out of several aerial thermal images, all the sensors and features you will need are already fully integrated into the Duo Pro R. Since it is not proprietary to any drone brand. The Duo Pro R can be used with just about any popular professional drone, this is a big plus in versatility.
3. Yuneec CGOET Thermal Vision Camera
Yuneec is one of the top brands in the professional drone industry, they came up with the Yuneec Mantis Q which is a very popular part in the drone industry. But now Yuneec also has an entry into the thermal camera market. The CGOET Thermal Vision Camera is a hot-swappable camera and gimbal combination at the same time. The camera is compatible with the Yuneec Typhoon H and Typhoon H520 model which is a very well built aircraft.
The CGOET Thermal Camera also has a dual-sensor setup that includes the thermal sensor and a 1080p camera into one compact device. This allows for taking at the same time data from the thermal camera and with visual images at the same time without switching accessories. Also, it’s allowing the user to identify the source of heat with higher accuracy. There are various settings that are integrated into the camera. These give users control over the opacity of separate layers to create images crafted to their intention.
CGOET thermal cameras and the Yuneec drones are unique because they both are built with much attention. First, they have a fully retractable landing gear of the compatible Yuneec drones. This allows the gimbal to rotate the full 360 degrees with no interference.
The hot-swappable design of Yuneec drones is also quite useful. Having the possibility to switch between different camera attachments could be useful in most situations. Yuneec offers a wide range of cameras for their professional drones present on the market. Between these you there are included a 4K camera and a camera with a powerful zoom lens.
4. FLIR Vue Pro R
The second product from FLIR, the Vue Pro R is available in several variants, each with different lens sizes, resolution, refresh rate, and field of view numbers. All of the combinations of specs you go for, it will get you a camera with an Uncooled VOx Microbolometer thermal sensor and an operating range of -20 to 50 °C.
One thing that separates the FLIR Vue Pro R from the other thermal cameras is its use of radiometric technology. It determines temperature readings at specific spots of the camera’s view accurately. This pinpoint accuracy goes beyond mere estimates and actually provides readings for individual pixels. Which is quite an impressive feature and can be very useful for lots of applications.
Thermal imaging is one of the most specialized things you can do with drones, they could be very useful in some situations. Thermal cameras are some of the most expensive accessories you can get for a drone, which is understandable because of the large number of sensors that you can find in a camera.
However, a successful career in thermal imaging is the stuff of a professional drone pilot’s dreams. In order to use a thermal camera, you will need a good drone, and enough experience to pilot it in a professional way. They must have a long flight time and a good altitude hold. Without this, your thermal camera will be useless.