Have you ever seen those cool movie scenes where the army, or secret agents, use a spy drone with motion sensors and infrared cameras to keep an eye on their enemy (even through walls!)?
Wouldn’t it be cool to have such a drone to make surveillance a lot easier (where it is required and legal)?
Well, due to the magic of the modern technology, there are some drone models available on the market, which are considered to be the best drones for spying, and they can easily serve the purpose of snooping around without getting caught.
Now, before you decide to go all “Bond, James Bond!” on your neighborhood, have in mind that spying on your sexy neighbor is a big NO-NO and punishable by the law (we will get to that part a bit later), or, in the meantime, you can check out our other article about drone flight rules and get more familiar with the do’s and don’t of this hobby.
But, you can use your spy gadget to make your residential area safer by using it for the neighborhood watch, or have your mind at ease by checking if your teenage daughter hasn’t sneaked out right after lights-out!
What are spy drones?
Well, the name practically explains itself, doesn’t it? It’s a drone (unmanned vehicle), used for the purpose of detecting the location and activity of the enemy.
Now, the term is mostly used in the military, for those breathtakingly expensive, super high-tech drones we hear about in the news when they take out an entire terrorist black market in the middle of the desert. However…
Hate to burst your bubble, those are not the drones we will be talking about today… But, if you want to find out more about military drones, we have just the article for you, the Law Enforcement drones. Even if you had an enormous amount of cash on your bank account, you will not be able to fly one of those bad-ass puppies. Therefore, we will talk about drones that are more civil-friendly, and available for purchasing, by anyone.
What do you need to become a drone secret agent?
Basically, all you need to become a drone spy is, obviously, a drone, a camera, and a monitor to see what your drone sees (and a recorder to record it). Instead of the monitor, you can use FPV goggles which are more interesting and offer you the sensation of being in the cockpit of the drone.
Now, the drones we will later talk about, all come with a camera (except one, but be patient and we will explain everything), and for the monitor, you can use your Android or IOS phone, or opt for the upper mentioned goggles.
What does the law say about spying?
Now, this is the part that spoils all the fun. As you probably already know, as an unmanned vehicle operator, you are responsible for getting up to date with the latest regulations imposed by the airspace authority in your country (this affects the UAVs).
Even though drones seem like small toys, they are actually considered flying vehicles and, the bigger your drone is, the more severe the regulations may get.
This means that if someone feels like his privacy is violated by your drone, even though this is still not clearly defined by the law, he is allowed to file a lawsuit, which might end up in his favor if you really used the drone for peeping on your hot neighbor. Read more about this on the Federal Aviation Administration website.
Top 5 Spy Drones on The Market
Hubsan X4 H107D
This is an ideal spy beginner model as it offers a small quadcopter, which is actually quite stable and durable, and offers a nice FPV set so that you can see what your drone sees. This model is actually the only model that is under $100 and has a camera, and is actually worth the money!
It does take some time to get used to it and to learn how to navigate the drone using FPV, but once you get the hang of it, you will become the best spy in your neighborhood!
The X4 offers two modes: Basic and Advanced. The first one offers more stable and slower flights so that you can master your piloting skills, while the second one lets you get wild and even follow a high-speed car chase if needed.
It doesn’t come with tons of features and the camera is fixed in the forward viewing position, but for that money, you can’t actually expect more. All in all, for a beginner drone secret agent, this is one of, if not THE best model available! You can also check out our review of the Hubsan X4 model and find out everything this drone has to offer.
Like this amazing product? Then you can buy it on Amazon.
DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ V3.0
If you already have an action cam then you can opt for the first Phantom series without the included camera. But, if you are camera free, then the much-improved Phantom 2 Vision+ V3.0, with a built-in HD camera and an FPV system is exactly what you need.
This model comes with a 14MP camera that records in 1080p and offers WiFi streaming, so you will be able to look over your neighborhood instantly, in HD! You can connect it with any Android or iOS device, and use some of the great features it comes with.
Thanks to a great gimbal, the camera is stabilized all the time and captures unbelievable stable footage which can actually be used for movies and not just for spying purposes.
The only downside of this model is the price, considering that it isn’t the DJI’s newer models, but it is definitely a great drone for both filmmakers and spies as well, and if you think that this model is perfect for your spying needs, you can get much more familiar with it by reading our in-depth review of the Phantom 2 Vision+ model.
On the other hand, if you think that by reading this, you found out enough to buy it right away, you can buy it from Amazon.
3D Robotics Iris
This is the model you fly when you want to look high-tech savvy! The Iris offers the Pixhawk autopilot system, meaning that you will be able to program autonomous takeoffs and landings, as well as an autonomous return to takeoff position, and tingle with mission parameters, which will allow the drone to circle around the point of interest and perform patrol flights.
The downside of this drone is that it doesn’t include the camera for the already expensive price (some $700) and that it can stay in the air for only 15 minutes max, all of which and much more, we explained in our review of the 3DR Iris+ model. But, this is not a deal breaker as this drone is one of the best for the purpose of spying on your “enemy”.
If you like this product you can find and check its price on Amazon.
DJI Spreading Wings S1000
If your spy career budget is not that tight, and you want to use a drone that can carry a serious filming equipment that will allow you to zoom in and keep an eye on someone from a greater distance, then look no further!
The S1000 has been built with filmmakers in mind, but the fact that this is one huge drone, capable of lifting some serious payload, makes it ideal for spy missions that require you to be far away from your mark.
The reason that this drone costs some $4500 is that it’s unbelievably lightweight but still very stable and capable of taking off with the heaviest DSLR cameras you can get your hands on.
The only downside is that it is really big and noisy, so if you plan on using it for spying, you will have to use a powerful camera and some mighty lens with it, which only adds to the price.
Like this amazing product? Then you can check its price here.
Skybotix Coax Autonomous UAV Micro Helicopter
We have saved the best for the end! The CoaX is actually a miniature flying computer (and a pretty smart one!), capable of flying like a leaf on the wind, without a sound.
This makes it ideal for spying missions, as it also comes with two cameras, the Gumstix Overo Microcomputing system (Linux based) allowing you to upload software and create fully autonomous missions. Furthermore, the drone is equipped with 4 sonar sensors and pressure sensors!
What more can you ask for?? If your answer is “What about IR sensors and cameras?” , then we are happy to inform you that the drone is ideal for upgrades and it can support literally whatever sensors or some other spy gadgets you attach to it.
However, even thought it really comes with some amazing, spy-ideal features, the price is not for everybody’s pocket! But, if you are like James Bond, and spend your nights in the Monte Carlo casino, then the price of some $5000 will be a piece of cake for you.
Like this product? Then you can buy it on Amazon.
Not Sure Which Model to Buy?
Drones are definitely very interesting gadgets and very fun to use, and besides the “spy missions”, they can be used for the creation of amazing high-quality aerial footage.
But, picking the model that you think is the right fit can be a stressful task, having in mind that there are so many different models available on the market.
So, our mission is that, after reading the most important features and having a look at some of the best drones for spying models on the market, you will have the necessary knowledge to choose the one that really fits your needs. To make it even easier, we have gathered a few pros and cons of owning one:
- They offer amazing aerial videos and image possibilities
- They are quite versatile and every day people find new ways of using them
- You can experience the feeling of being a pilot without going to a pilot school
- If you don’t have any prior experience, your maiden flight will not go as smooth as you think
- For cheaper models, the battery life is a huge problem
- It can be an expensive hobby
If you still have questions regarding the type of spy drone to purchase or any other topic-related inquiries, just leave us a comment. We’ll do our best to reply as quickly as possible!