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Never had a drone before but now I want one which needs to meet this very specific set of requirements:

  • Dockable. I want to setup a drone dock on the roof of a building, where the drone will reside and recharge. It should be able to automatically return to the dock on command or low battery. The dock shall be weatherproof;
  • With dual audio (to talk to anyone in the vicinity) and camera for live video streaming;
  • Reasonably quiet. Both to avoid drawing attention and to enable efficient audio communication;
  • With powerful LED flood/searchlights;
  • Weatherproof, sturdy and reliable.

Typical use-case scenarios:

  • Remote patrolling/inspection of a property. Range from the dock is less than 100m
  • Remote communication with visitors
  • Aerial photography

All price ranges considered.

Is there anything like that on the market as a turnkey solution? If I was to build one myself, which specific components/brands should I be looking at?

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    $\begingroup$ You don't mention a location, but your use cases sound strictly illegal in the US, unless you plan to have another person spotting the drone as it patrols. $\endgroup$
    – Harabeck
    Nov 2, 2021 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Harabeck I don't want to complicate this question with legality considerations given there are hundreds of jurisdictions in the world and the applicable laws will differ drastically. Leave it up to the prospective drone owner. $\endgroup$
    – Greendrake
    Nov 2, 2021 at 23:15

1 Answer 1

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There are several options available for Self-Docking drones. Skydio, Icaros and Nightingale have some for security markets. There are some targeted at agriculture as well. However these may turn out to be very expensive (some number with 4 zeros behind it).

Most available drones have an RTL (return to launch) feature triggered by the user or a low battery condition.

Two way audio is probably not a feature on any expect Security type drones. You could add this, but the extra weight (speaker, mic, amp) would need to be accounted for in the payload capability.

The noise is also a consideration since most drones from 10 meters away are upwards of 70-80dB which is similar to traffic noise next to a highway. Some smaller units or hexacopters may be quieter.

It might be worth it to get a consumer grade unit and explore the possibility of customizing to fit your needs.

A note about batteries:

  1. Higher power batteries give longer run time up to a point. Then weight becomes an issue.
  2. The general recommendation is to have them at some reasonable temperature before use to prolong life. 'Reasonable' is anybodies guess.
  3. They are generally discharged much faster than they charge. A fully depleted battery may take upwards of one hour to fully charge.
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