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Costs Involved in Drone Mapping or Inspection | Hammer Missions

Updated: May 30, 2023

Costs Involved in Drone Mapping | Hammer Missions
Costs Involved in Drone Mapping | Hammer Missions


Drones have taken the mapping and inspection industry by storm over the past few years with everything from roof inspection to offshore wind turbine inspection now catered for using drone technology!

Drones are a faster, cheaper and more efficient way of collecting the same data it would take someone to capture manually, it's the same data but better!

But how much faster? Well, it's over 100x faster than a conventional laser scanner or putting scaffolding up! Now that's efficiency you cannot afford to lose.

But when it comes to affordability, how much more affordable is it?

That's something we will find out in this post.


In this section, we will break down the costs of each element of using a drone to inspect an asset, from the cost of the drone down to health a safety costs.

1. Drone Costs

Costing a drone for a job depends on several factors and is a one-time cost, until a better drone is out which can be upgraded for efficiency gains.

Price ranges for drones depend largely on your use case and the nature of your data collection. These prices range between $1000 to $15,000

Below we will compare two drones, one at the lower end of the market and the other at the higher. These drones will be the DJI M3E and the DJI M300

DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise
DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise

DJI M300
DJI M300


DJI Mavic 3E

DJI M300


M4/3 20MP Mechanical Shutter

Interchangeable Payload (camera not included in initial price)

Drone Spec

Foldable, very small form factor, includes controller with integrated screen. Very Short set up time.

Fast drone with integrated / fixed payload.

Non Weatherproofed suited for standard operations.

Large form factor, would require possible two man team. Includes controller with integrated screen. Longer set up time

Larger heavier drone with changeable payload. Weather proofed suited for heavy duty operations.



$13, 700

2. Camera Costs

When it comes to the type of camera you require for your operation this can again often be determined by your budget and the nature of the data you need to collect. Prices can range from £0 (built in) to over $10,000 (custom payload)

The smaller drones, the Mavic range, all come with integrated cameras. Depending on which drone you purchase and your use case will determine which camera you are best suited for.

The Mavic 3 range, in its enterprise form, has two different setups to choose from:

DJI Mavic 3E:

Wide: 4/3 CMOS, 20MP, Mechanical Shutter

Tele: Equivalent Focal Length: 162mm, 12MP, 56× Hybrid Zoom

Price: $3,700

DJI Mavic 3T:

Wide: Equivalent Focal Length: 24mm, 48MP Zoom: Equivalent Focal Length: 162mm, 12MP, 56× Hybrid Zoom

Thermal: DFOV: 61°, Equivalent Focal Length: 40mm, Resolution 640 × 512

Price: $5,500

Drone Costs | DJI M3E Series
Drone Costs | DJI M3E Series

At the higher end of the market when it comes to the M300 and drones that have an interchangeable payload you are looking at an increased cost for cameras, these can range from $10,000 upwards.

Depending on your operation the cameras available range from zoom cameras and cameras with interchangeable lenses to high-end thermal cameras for inspection and search and rescue operations.

DJI P1 Camera | Hammer Missions
DJI P1 Camera | Hammer Missions
DJI P1 (45 Megapixel Camera with Interchangeable Lenses)

3. Software Costs

Software Costs | Hammer Missions
Software Costs | Hammer Missions

Software costs can vary, here at Hammer Missions we have a tiered structure for pricing our product.

Our tiered pricing depends on which elements of our product you want to use and how much data you wish to process. These costs are reoccurring and can be paid monthly or annually depending on your budget.

These prices generally range from $1000 - 2,700 / year to a custom figure depending on your usage, number of users and sites.

For more information on pricing for Hammer Missions software please see our pricing page by clicking the link below:

4. Insurance Costs

Drone operators require insurance to cover their aircraft in case of a crash and their liability to structures and people on the ground.

There are plenty of reputable insurance companies in the drone industry and it is best to shop around for the best cover for your operation.

Depending on your budget, insurance can be taken out yearly, monthly or even daily.

In the UK, our top recommendations for drone insurance would be:

Pricing will vary depending on what sort of equipment you are flying and the liability you require and can range from between $20 to $100 per month.

5. Training Costs

Training can all depend on which type of drone you want to use which will determine which certification you require.

For the UK, there are two types of certification in the drone industry:

A2 CofC: Grants the successful candidate with an A2 Certificate of Competence

Enables operations in the new EU A2 Category of Operations

GVC: General Visual Line Of Sight Certificate

Enables operations in the new EU Specific Category of Operations

The equivalent for this in the US would the Part 107 by FAA.

These categories are specific to the operation you need to carry out.

Our recommendation would be to obtain a GVC as this will not limit you to the type of operations that would fall under the inspection mission category.

The cost for the GVC / other certification can vary and range from $700 to $1000

Further training is also available from various training companies if you wish to look further into drone inspection.

6. Compliance Costs

Compliance costs can also be looked at as admin costs, this would cover the administration of your operations and would be an ongoing cost.

This could range from renewing your certification with the CAA (in the UK), logging your operations and maintaining your equipment.

Your yearly cost could be the sum of between $200 to $400

7. Travel Costs

You will also have to take into account your travel costs, travelling to and from the site, possible overnight stays and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Obviously, these costs can vary and are dependent on your specific job.

8. Health & Safety Costs

This would be any equipment you need to purchase to make your operations safer.

9. Operational Costs

This is basically the time on site, and time taken to upload, process and deliver the data to the client or the stakeholder.

An Example Costs Table

The costings on this spreadsheet are just an example of what it could cost to operate and are based on twelve months of operating as a new pilot.





DJI Mavic 3E vs DJI M300

​$1000 - $15,000


Built In vs Custom Payload

$0 - $10,000


Hammer Missions

$1000 - $3000


Drone Insurance



GVC Qualification



Logging and maintenance



Example of travel



$3,600 - $30,000

Obviously the above is just an example of the possible costs of operating, these costs could vary dramatically depending on your equipment and operations.

The important thing to consider here is the cost per operation. As you fly and operate more, your cost per operation lowers. For instance, if you only do 1 mission a year, your cost is $3600 per operation. However, if you do 3 missions a month, your cost per operation drops to $100 / operation! So the key here to focus on delivering value to your clients more frequently.


As you can see from our cost break down there is a lot to consider when looking at drone operations. To keep this post simple, we have not included other equipment costs you might incur - including RTK equipment, network licenses, etc. We think these can be factored in as drone-related costs over time.

As a new operator, it's worth doing your research into the type of operation you are looking to carry out and the impact of the costs involved, but be rest assured that the more operations you carry out the lower the cost.

Drones bring value to the inspection market compared to the alternatives, like scaffolding, rope access and cherry pickers. Drones can save your client at least 1/10th of the cost!

We hope this article gives you an insight into the costs of a drone survey or inspection. If you'd like to learn more about how to capture high-quality data and get the most out of your drone flights using our cloud-based platform, please feel free to visit our learning resources. If you haven't got a Hammer account and would like to try Hammer Missions you can get started on our free trial. To learn more about our enterprise solutions, including mission collaboration, data processing, and AI solutions, please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you.

— Team at Hammer Missions


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