A year is a long time in the drone industry. Most of the headlines focus on the big money deals, new product launches and innovations. But there’s much more going on under the surface.
One sector, for example, is dedicated to providing drones as a rental service. And it’s pretty fast moving, especially as more individuals and businesses seek to test out the potential of aerial technology.
In fact it’s developing so fast that the piece we put together on drone rental services back in 2016 is already out of date. Several of the companies mentioned have actually shut down for good. So we thought it would be a good idea to refresh that piece with a new list of active businesses, all of which are ready to offer drone rental services with delivery to your door.
We’ve split them up into US and UK-based companies. UK readers: scroll to the bottom of this article.
Why Rent a Drone?
Getting your first drone, or any drone for that matter, is often a big investment. And on top of the money, it’s tough to know which drone is right for you and your needs without spending a few hours taking it for a spin.
And then there are pilots and businesses who need a certain type of drone for a specific job. Perhaps a DJI Inspire 2 to keep up with a car for a film shoot, or a Mavic Pro for flying indoors. They don’t want to spend all of that money on a drone that’s not going to be put to work on a regular basis.
The solution to both problems is obvious: drone rental. It’s a much better alternative to spending a small fortune on a drone that will quickly gather dust after the job is done. It also guarantees quality in the way that choosing one of many cheap drones might not.
We’ve had a look around and discovered a few websites you might want to visit if you’re interested in renting out a drone. Whether it’s for the trip abroad, a one-off mission, a special event, research purposes or just for fun, we’re betting that one of these guys has what you’re looking for…
Blue Skies Drone Rental
We’ll start with the one survivor from our original list: Blue Skies Drone Rental. The company provides all manner of drones for pilots who only need one for the short term. It may be that you have a specific trip or project in mind, or like many, you might just want to try before you buy.
With Blue Skies, users can get a DJI Phantom 4 for under $250 per week, while there is also an option to buy used or new drones, should your testing go well. Blue Sky users can also register as drone service providers, making the website a great place to make peer to peer connections too.
Blue Skies’ Todd Knighton told DroneLife about the inspiration behind the company. “Blue Skies Drone Rental was started because we see drones as an area where aviation technology will see leaps and bounds in the coming years,” he said.
“With the technology evolving so rapidly, drones become outdated within months. We want everyone to have the chance to rent the latest technology as an affordable alternative to purchasing. We own and maintain our own large and diverse fleet. We also provide purchase options of new and used drones, training, as well as aerial services. We can ship to any U.S. location and also have locations in various states across the country.”
Blue Skies Drone Rental is a one-stop-shop for UAV equipment rentals, new and used sales, aerial services, training and more.
“We own and maintain our own large and diverse rental fleet of the latest UAV platform and sensor technology. We have many options from fixed to rotary wing platforms and sensors from hobby to high-end photography/cinematography to thermal/IR, Zoom, multispectral and even LIDAR.”
“We always stock all the latest cutting-edge aerial equipment. When you are ready to buy we provide new and used purchase options as well as trade-ins.”
Knighton also told DroneLife that Blue Skies have experience in maintenance and repair and can provide training to pilots.
Blue Skies Drone Rental ship anywhere across the US and can arrange local pickup from one of their various partners. International shipping is also available upon request.
“No matter the industry we’ve got you covered,” said Knighton. “Professional cinematography, precision agriculture, building inspection, land survey, energy, utility & power, public service, fire/security. Yeah, we’ve got a drone for that!”
Like several of the companies on this list, Lens Rentals’ main focus is cameras and standard photography equipment. It’s only as drones have become more mainstream in the media business that the demand for them has grown.
A spokesperson from Lens Rentals told us that the company is “the largest online rental provider in the country with bodies, lenses, lighting, video equipment, and accessories from all major manufacturers. We rent the DJI Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 Pro, and DJI Inspire 2 plus all the support equipment you’ll need to get great footage.”
“The gear is delivered to your doorstep and you ship it back when you’re done. Everything is cleaned and inspected to guarantee orders arrive on-time with compatible, working equipment.”
To give you an idea of the cost when renting from Lens Rentals, you can currently hire a DJI Mavic Pro for $213 for the week. Even better: Use the code WINTERFUN to get 7 days for the price of 4.
The Lens Depot
Similar to Lens Rentals is the Lens Depot. Although the Florida company specialises in ground-based photography equipment, they do have a range of DJI products and accessories for pilots or companies who need a short-term UAV fix.
Speaking to DroneLife, the Lens Depot team said, “We are an online based rental company that offer drone rentals in addition to photography, video, lighting, support, and grip rentals. We have been in business for just over 10 years. We offer local pick-up at our Orlando and Tampa offices and ship all over the United States via UPS.”
“Renting drones is a great way to either try a specific model before you buy or to get that spectacular one-off shot that you need for your project. Our support staff are available via phone or e-mail to answer any questions you may have prior to or during your rental. We are also very detailed and make sure every drone is properly test flown and in good working order for your rental.”
Thinking about renting a drone this month? Lens Depot has a range of January deals that you might want to consider.
Camera Lens Rentals / American Drone Rentals
Camera Lens Rentals has been renting drones from their office in Indiana since 2013. According to founder Barry Jackson, they were the first company in the country to offer online drone rentals and ship to all 50 states.
“We started renting drones back in 2013 and started with the original DJI Phantom. Since then we have rented out all the Phantom series, Mavic series, Spark series, and the popular Inspire series. We repair and service all of our own drones and we are also a DJI dealer, so we have access to OEM parts and can also sell our customers a new drone if they are just trying before they buy.”
For Jackson, it’s not just about having all of the gear, it’s about industry knowledge, too. “If a customer needs a recommendation,” he said, “we will be able to give it to them with a fair and honest recommendation based on the situation.”
“Our main goal is the customer’s needs and we can recommend which drone we believe they will need. All of our DJI drones are shipped in a GoProfessional case and include every accessory needed, including multiple batteries, controllers, and Ipads for the Phantom and Inspire series drones.”
“With the exception of the lens or lenses that they have to choose themselves, we have bundled this so that our customers are not playing the guessing game on what accessories or how many batteries they need.”
Handily for established pilots looking to bolster their gear for a specific job, Camera Lens Rentals also offer accessory-only rentals – ideal if you need extra batteries for a job.
“We have also created our own video tutorials that walk you through each step from opening up the box, to closing it back up for return. All of our drones are registered with the FAA, so that gives peace of mind to our customers if they are using it for commercial purposes. We have rented to everyone from major news networks, all the way to the amateur wanting to use one for vacation.”
Recently, Camera Lens Rentals have set up a sister site dedicated to hiring drone gear: American Drone Rental.
Renting a drone in the UK
Most UK drone pilots will have heard of Heliguy. The company has established itself as a reputable drone dealer and offers many advantages over buying directly from manufacturers.
As well as being an authorized DJI dealer, offering pilot training and conducting repairs, Heliguy provides a drone rental service.
However, Heliguy’s rental service is very much for professional pilots. In fact, in order to rent you’ll need a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) from the UK’s CAA – a loose equivalent of a Part 107. The service is ideal for commercial pilots who need a specific tool for a short-term mission or project.
Speaking to DroneLife, Heliguy’s Paddy Davies said, “Heliguy’s drones can be rented by anyone who holds a PfCO. Our customers range from photographers and videographers who need a different type of equipment to get specific images and videos for their clients, to industrial workers who only need a drone for a short period of time, to public sectors who don’t want the expense of buying a drone outright.”
“Heliguy are the leading UK experts in drone systems. We supply, support and service customers all over the country. With our rental service, we are offering a specialist service for our business clients – which will allow them to expand their capability and support their services without outlaying valuable cash flow.”
“Our technicians setup, check and service all of our systems before we dispatch any rentals. Heliguy has the capacity, expertise and experience to support our customers to succeed in their business.”
You can read here for more information on Heliguy’s rental services here.
Fat Lama is unique for two reasons. First, it’s the only platform that offers drone rental in both the UK and the US. Second, it’s completely peer to peer. Essentially it’s a marketplace where pilots can list their drones for short-term rentals.
Fat Lama’s Tim Slater describes the company as “a peer-to-peer marketplace – a kind of ‘Airbnb for stuff’. So on the ‘lender’ side, people are making some serious passive income from renting out their own drones; on the ‘borrower’ side, people save a lot of money because of the competitive rental rates our lenders can offer.”
“Thanks to our unique global insurance policy, as a lender on Fat Lama you’re also automatically covered for up to £25,000 / $30,000 against theft and damages to your drone.”
“The prices that you get by renting peer-to-peer are unbeatable. Rather than paying rental shop premiums, you could pay as little as £25/$30 to a fellow drone enthusiast for a day’s hire of their Mavic Pro – and you’ll get even cheaper day rates for longer-term hires.”
For example, if you live in London or are planning a trip to the English capital, but haven’t got a drone handy, you can search the listing for London rentals.
Those are just a few companies offering door to door drone rental services. Feel free to let us know which you like to use and why.