Drones are no longer used just for flying. Today they can do so much more—take photos, shoot videos, carry packages, groceries, fertilizers, and so much more.
Apparently drones can lift and carry a lot of different things. But can drones lift other things like, for example, a dog?
So can a drone lift a dog? Yes, a drone can lift a dog depending on the dog breed and the type and model of the drone. There are drones capable of lifting up to 440 lbs (200 kg), which is more than sufficient to lift even the heaviest of dog breeds, which can reach up to 357 lbs (162 kg).
However, lifting a dog with a drone may not be such a good idea. For more detailed and in-depth information, continue reading below.
What Is the Difference Between Payload and Takeoff Weight?
Before we begin, let me establish and define a few terms that will be used throughout this article.
- Maximum payload is the weight of any additional objects that can be lifted and carried by the drone without causing structural damage or reducing its flight stability. If a drone is said to have a maximum payload of 1 pound, this means that it can lift an object weighing 1 pound.
- The maximum takeoff weight is always going to be bigger than the maximum payload. The reason for that is that the max payload is a part of the takeoff weight. The takeoff weight represents the weight of the drone plus the payload.
I stress on these two terms because they are used when referring to the capability of a drone to lift and fly with additional weight. Certain manufacturers may list the payload while others the takeoff weight instead.
Of course, these numbers are not hard and fast rules.
The chances are you will be able to fly a drone even if you go a little over these numbers. However, there is a significantly higher chance that the drone will not be able to stay stable in the air; extra weight will affect its flight patterns, trajectory, control, stability, and maneuverability.
In addition to that, the atmospheric conditions can further destabilize the drone and reduce its payload capacity.
How Much Weight Can a Drone Lift?
The weight a drone can lift and fly with will vary greatly depending on the type and model of the drone itself.
What you will find out is that although some very lightweight drones are not capable of lifting more than a few hundred grams of extra weight, there are also other models capable of carrying even a few human passengers.
Let’s take a look at what the numbers say.
Many of the toy and stunt drones—usually the ones intended for kids—are capable of lifting no more than a few hundred grams at most.
But let’s take a look at the consumer drones. These are the ones that are most commonly used by the public. They have low payload capacity. For example:
- DJI Phantom 3 – About 1 to 2 lbs (0.45 to 0.9 kg).
- DJI Phantom 4 – About 0.4 to 1 lb (0.20 to 0.45 kg).
If we move to some of the higher-end consumer drones, we will find out that they can lift a little more weight.
- DJI Matrice 100 – Up to 7.94 lbs (3.6 kg).
- DJI S1000 – Up to 15.43 lbs (7 kg).
- DJI S900 – Up to 18.08 lbs (8.2 kg).
Prosumer and Commercial Drones
If we take a look at the more specialized drones, we will find that these can lift, on average, a lot more weight compared to the standard drones. However, many of these command very high prices, too.
- Freefly Alta 8 – Up to 20 lbs (9.07 kg).
- DJI Agras MG-1 – Up to 22.05 lbs (10 kg).
- MFD 5000 – Up to 40 lbs (18.14 kg).
- Vulcan UAV Airlift – Up to 55.12 lbs (25 kg).
- GRIFF 135 – Up to 110 lbs (50 kg).
- GRIFF FLORIAN – Up to 331 lbs (150 kg).
- GRIFF SAVIOUR – Up to 441 lbs (200 kg).
- Boeing’s Cargo Drone – Up to 500 lbs (226.80 kg).
- SKYF – Up to 551 lbs (250 kg).
And finally, we have a few drones which are intended for carrying passengers. Due to their purpose, these drones are going to be very rare and expensive, but it is worth entertaining the thought.
- VoloCity – 441 lbs (200 kg)
- Ehang 184 (now phased out) – up to 264 lb (120 kg)
- Ehang 216 – 485 pounds (220 kg)
And let’s not forget about the CityAirbus by Airbus—a multicopter capable of carrying up to four passengers.
How Much Do Dogs Weigh?
Right from the get-go, we can clearly see that there are drones capable of doing some heavy lifting.
There are more than 300 different dog breeds, each with its unique features and aspects.
With so many different dog breeds, it will be very hard to give a specific global average as to how much dogs weigh.
This is why it is better—and a lot more practical—to categorize the dogs by size and not by breed. For example, according to their size, we can classify dogs in six different categories:
- Toy dogs – up to 12 lbs.
- Small dogs – 12 to 25 lbs.
- Medium dogs – 25 lbs to 50 lbs.
- Large dogs – 50 lbs to 100 lbs. And
- Extra-large dogs – over 100 lbs.
The heaviest dog breed—on average—is the English Mastiff. The heaviest dogs of which can weigh between 110 lbs and 343 lbs. With that being said, the heaviest dog on record is a St. Bernard weighing the impressive 357 lbs.
On the other hand, there are many very light dog breeds, too. The lightest dog breed is the chihuahua—with the smallest dog on record weighing a mere 2 lbs.
So we are working with a very big weight range here.
Resulting from these numbers, we can conclude that to lift a dog—depending on the specific breed—the drone should be able to lift between 2 and 357 lbs.
However, it would be wise to add 10 to 20% on top of that. It is not all about whether or not the drone can lift a dog on paper. The drone should not be used at its theoretical maximum payload limits.
Can You Lift a Dog With a Drone?
Technically speaking, yes, you can lift a dog with a drone.
A lot of the most commonly used drones, however, will not be capable of lifting a dog. These can lift anywhere from several ounces to a few pounds, and this may not be sufficient.
On the other hand, if we take a look at some of the more specialized and high-end drones, we can clearly see a few drones that can lift up to a few hundred pounds—some drones can even carry a person, so they should be able to lift a dog as well.
Should You Lift a Dog With a Drone?
As you can see, it is possible to lift and carry a dog with your drone. There are plenty of small enough dog breeds that will be within the capabilities of many drones. A few specialized drones can lift even the heaviest dogs.
However, it is not all about whether or not the drone can lift a dog. Just because you can lift your dog with a drone does not mean you should do it.
Flying a drone with an extra weight strapped on to it can be extremely dangerous.
It is extremely unsafe and dangerous for a drone to lift and carry a person in the first place, but when it comes to carrying a dog, matters can get even worse.
You need to account for the fact that dogs are not humans, and while a human can try and stay calm and stationary, a dog will not.
If you try lifting your dog with a drone, it will get scared and restless. It will surely try to get away from the drone and back to the ground where it feels safer.
This erratic behavior and movement will easily—and somewhat rather quickly—cause the drone to lose its stability while flying and come crashing down.
Even hanging a tiny object like a small microphone off of your drone can create a pendulum effect that can destabilize the drone and cause it to crash.
Any additional weight that a drone has to lift will also affect the overall flight time.
It is not recommended to lift a dog with a drone. It is extremely unsafe for both the dog and the drone. You can gravely injure your dog even if you try to lift it a few feet off the grown—please, do not do it.
Additionally, you are not supposed to strap any loose objects to your drone, not to mention the pet and animal laws you may break by doing so.
Using a drone that is designed to carry passengers may be a more viable option as these drones have undergone extensive research and testing to ensure the safety of the passengers. But even then, there may be additional considerations and safety measures that have to be followed.
The information in this article is intended only for informational purposes. Follow the FAA and your local regulations laws at all times.