Nowadays, technology improves with the speed of light. Anyone can have a drone. And drones are capable of doing so many things. They can be used for aerial photography, parcel delivery, fertilizer spreading, food delivery, and so much more.
This naturally begs the question of what other things can drones lift and carry?
So can a drone carry a person? Yes, some drones are powerful enough to carry a person. Certain drone models can carry payloads up to and in excess of 440 lbs (or 200 kg), which are more than capable of carrying a person. In fact, some drones have been designed for passenger transportation and search and rescue operations.
Drones carrying people seemed like an exotic idea when I first thought of it. However, during the course of researching the topic, I found that there is a lot of interesting information about this topic.
So if you are curious to find out more, continue reading below.
How Much Weight Can Drones Carry?
There are a lot of different variables that can affect a drone’s carrying abilities. Although we will get to that in a bit first, I feel like it is important to define a few terms and frequently used words.
Also, we have to establish that we are talking about multi-rotor drones and not fixed-wing drones.
What Is Maximum Payload?
The maximum payload of a drone represents the weight the drone can carry without that causing any serious problems with the drone’s structure, flight stability, trajectory, and overall performance.
The payload will, however, affect the drone’s flight time.
What Is Maximum Takeoff Weight?
On some drones, the maximum takeoff weight may be stated instead of the payload.
The maximum takeoff weight is the weight above which the drone should not be operated and flown.
The takeoff weight is the total weight of the drone, including cameras, accessories, batteries plus any additional weight— read payload—that the drone can carry like third-party cameras, additional accessories, parcels, and passengers.
In other words, drone weight plus the maximum payload equals the maximum takeoff weight.
Going over the maximum takeoff weight of a drone does not mean the drone will not be able to take off.
Some drones can be flown above the max takeoff weight depending on the atmospheric conditions, altitude, winds, and more. However, flying a drone while exceeding its max takeoff weight is dangerous due to compromised flight stability, structural frame, and maneuverability.
How Much Weight Can Drones Carry?
There are some pretty tough consumer drones that are actually built with the idea to carry extra weight. A few really good drones capable of carrying small amounts of extra weight can be seen from DJI.
|Brand and Model||Payload|
|DJI Matrice 100||Up to 7.94 lbs (3.6 kg)|
|DJI Matrice 600||Up to 13.23 lbs (6 kg)|
|DJI S1000||Up to 15.43 lbs (7 kg)|
|Tarot T-18||Up to 17.64 lbs (8 kg)|
|DJI S900||Up to 18.08 lbs (8.2 kg)|
|DJI Agras MG-1||Up to 22.05 lbs (10 kg)|
But that is not all. If we take things to the next level, we will find out that there are actually some neat prosumer and commercial drones that are capable of doing some real heavy lifting.
Many of these are designed to do different types of specialized work.
|Brand and Model||Payload|
|Freefly Alta 8||Up to 20 lbs (9.07 kg)|
|Onyxstar Hydra 12||Up to 26.46 lbs (12 kg)|
|MFD 5000||Up to 40 lbs (18.14 kg)|
|VulcanUAV Airlift||Up to 55.12 lbs (25 kg)|
|VulcanUAV D8||Up to 55.12 lbs (25 kg)|
|GRIFF 135||Up to 110 lbs (50 kg)|
|Schieble’s CAMCOPTER S-100||Up to 110 lbs (50 kg)|
|GRIFF FLORIAN||Up to 331 lbs (150 kg)|
|GRIFF SAVIOUR||Up to 441 lbs (200 kg)|
|SKYF||Up to 551 lbs (250 kg)|
A number of different companies work on developing drones that are capable of carrying people.
|Brand and Model||Payload|
|VoloCity||441 lbs (200 kg)|
|Ehang 216||485 pounds (220 kg)|
Ehang 216, which has the capacity of two passengers, is currently one of the best drones in this category.
The Ehang 216 is actually the successor to the—now discontinued—Ehang 184, which was a one-person drone capable of carrying up to 264 lb (120 kg).
A few more heavy lifting drones can be found from Volocopter. Their VoloDrone is capable of carrying up to 441 lbs (200 kg), and the VoloCity is actually a passenger drone capable of carrying up to 2 passengers.
Another example is the Airbus CityAirbus, which is a multicopter that can carry up to four passengers.
How Much Do People Weigh?
Since we are discussing the topic of drones carrying people—we need to say a few words about, well, people.
Of course, every person is unique; we all have different body proportions, sizes, and shapes. But let’s not overcomplicate things.
The global average weight is about 137 pounds (or about 62 kg).
Although these numbers will vary significantly from country to country we can conclude that men are on average heavier than women; the average weight ranges vary between 123 pounds (56 kg) and 194 pounds (88 kg) for men and women are thinner and slimmer with average weight ranges between 95 pounds (43 kg) and 165 pounds (75 kg).
Judging by the numbers, we can safely conclude that a drone capable of lifting—having a payload—of at least 95 to 194 lbs (43 to 88 kg) is going to be enough to lift and carry a person.
With that being said, we do not want the drone to be flying at its limits, so adding at least another 10% to 20% on top of that may be well justified—especially since there may be additional payload that the drone may have to lift, which needs to be accounted for.
Can You Lift and Carry a Person With a Drone?
The reason why drones look the way they look—and why they are so popular—is because we can fit high-tech gadgets in very small spaces.
Small drones are more convenient and can be used for a number of purposes. But the small sizes does not come without its drawbacks.
One of these drawbacks is that they cannot really carry a lot of weight.
All drones have been designed to work within some weight ranges, and as you can see, even the heavy lifting consumer drones can carry up to no more than 13 to 27 lbs (6 to 12 kg). And the majority of the standard consumer drones have a very low payload of about to no more than 2.2 to 4.4 lbs (1 to 2 kg).
Stunt and very small drones have an even lower payload of no more than 0.4 oz (10 grams). Except for specific models that may potentially carry a little over 3.5 oz (100 grams)
Next, we have some drone product lines that are made for carrying heavy parcels and goods. Most of these drones can lift as much as 55.12 lbs (25 kg), which is still not enough to lift a person.
Thus the majority—if not all—of the consumer drones are not capable of picking up or carrying a person.
However, when we push into high-end products, we can start seeing some very promising numbers. There are a few drones that can lift up to 551 lbs (250 kg), which is definitely going to be enough to lift and carry a person.
And lastly, we have a few drones that are built with the very purpose of carrying not just one but several people all at once.
Should You Use a Drone to Carry a Person?
Although it is possible to lift and carry a person with certain drones, there are a few things worth mentioning.
First, and I don’t want to sound like a killjoy here, but you are not allowed to just strap in somebody under a drone and lift them in the air. This is extremely dangerous and unsafe. Using a drone that has not been designed for the explicit purpose of carrying passengers can result in the drone losing its stability and crashing. This can cause injuries and even potential death.
Plain and simple—please, do not do it.
Even a small increase in the weight of the drone—by, for example, strapping a lightweight action camera to the body of the drone—can noticeably affect its flight stability, maneuverability, and flight pattern.
Hanging something or someone under a drone will affect the drone’s stability and flight time significantly. Since the person or the object is not attached to the body of the drone in a stable and secure way, this will cause a pendulum effect, which will easily throw the drone off balance even if there is no wind present.
Again this is super dangerous—even if you fly the drone at very low altitudes.
Even if you try to lift a person with your drone and just hover them a foot or two above ground level, you are still putting that person at serious risk. The drone can crash severely injuring that person.
Conversely, as we previously explored, some drones are built to transport people—typically between 1 to 4 passengers. And although the technology is yet to expand fully in that direction, these drones are actually built for carrying people and have undergone countless hours of testing.