Drone vs Quadcopter – What’s the Difference?

When you’re just looking into the drone world, then some of the terminology can be a little confusing. One of the most common things that people get confused about is quadcopters, and whether they differ from drones.

The answer is pretty easy, although it can be difficult to know the difference when people easily interchange the words all the time. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’re two completely different things, when actually, the two things are one and the same.

Drones vs Quadcopters – What’s the Difference?

To put it simply, a quadcopter is a drone, but a drone isn’t necessarily a quadcopter. A quadcopter is essentially a helicopter that’s propelled by four different motors. It is a type of drone, and if you’re looking at the budget end of the drone market, then they’re pretty much all quadcopters.

A quadcopter is just an aerial vehicle or a helicopter that uses multiple rotors instead of one. With a helicopter, you’re generally going to have one main rotor that the helicopter relies on. This isn’t true for all helicopters, as sometimes you’ll find them with tandem rotors like so;

tandem-helicopter

So whilst typical helicopters use one rotor and tandem helicopters use two rotors, a quadcopter uses how many? That’s right.. 4.

So to clarify, there’s no difference between a drone and a quadcopter – they’re the same thing!

Are Quadcopters better than Helicopters?

For the purpose that we use drones (or what we call drones today) then yes, quadcopters are a better choice than a helicopter. A quadcopter allows a few things which make them suitable as drones. Firstly, it’s easier to hover with a quadcopter, because the pressure is distributed between all of the rotors equally. Unlike with a helicopter where the weight is supported by one central rotor, with a quadcopter the weight is spread equally between the four rotors. Also, quadcopters allow more space to fit cameras and other tech stuff into the quadcopter than with a standard helicopter.

Why Don’t we use Quadcopters instead of regular helicopters?

This is a really good question and one that a lot of people ask. If quadcopters work so well as UAVs/drones, then why don’t we use them at a larger scale and transport people with them? Well, there’s one main reason that they won’t make good passenger vehicles.

Control. If you’ve ever flown a drone, then you’ll know that quadcopters can be choppy at times. This doesn’t matter with a small drone, but when we’re considering a quadcopter at the scale of a passenger helicopter, then it isn’t going to be stable enough for passengers to fly in it. This has been tested for almost a century with different types of aerial vehicles, and it just isn’t plausible.

Are there other types of drone?

Sure! It just so happens that the majority of retail drones are quadcopters and they’ve become so popular that they’re pretty much known as the main type of drone.

Although typically we think of multirotor copters like quadcopters as a drone, technically a drone is just a UAV (unmarked aerial vehicle). That means that planes and helicopters are drones too!

Conclusion

Overall, quadcopters are just a form of drone that’s extremely prevalent in recent years. With drones becoming more and more popular, a quadcopter allows more control for beginners with things like headless mode, as opposed to rc helicopters which can be difficult to control. But essentially, a quadcopter is just a drone with four rotors, designed to allow us easy to control orientation over our aerial vehicle.

Depending on what you’re looking for, a quadcopter is likely to be what you’re after. If you want a good drone to take aerials with, then it’s really worth looking at getting a quadcopter or a mini quadcopter.

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