Aerial Thermography

How to use a drone for aerial thermography

As thermal sensors become smaller, lighter, less expensive and more widely available on drones, more commercial drone applications are integrating aerial thermography.

Drones with thermal cameras are being used for inspecting HVAC units, wind turbines, cell towers, roofs, or finding missing people. And more drone companies are making it easy to incorporate thermal imaging in drones.

At the Consumer Electronics Show 2017, Autel announced a new camera for its X-Star, a FLIR Duo dual thermal and visual camera module, which can show thermal and standard, visual light images. It allows users to switch between the two in-flight, view both at the same time with picture-in-picture, or see a blended image of both, and will launch in the first quarter of 2017. Purchase your FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras directly from the FLIR site here.

Yuneec also announced its H520, a six-rotor drone for commercial applications. One of its camera options is the CGO-ET dual thermal RGB camera.

But what are clients looking for in terms of data gathering? How do you handle post-processing of data? How can you build an aerial thermal imaging business?  UAV Coach, which has had tremendous success in its FAA Part 107 course (I used it, and passed my own Part 107!), is now launching a course on Aerial Thermal Imaging for Drone Pilots.

The self-paced course is available for $199.

The course primarily uses DJI products (ZenMuse XT Thermal Sensor and DJI Inspire) though of course there are plenty of other aircraft and sensor configurations. (The DJI Inspire and ZenMuse XT are widely used to capture accurate thermal data relatively easily and are representative of the capabilities of the majority of aerial thermography systems.)thermal imaging for uav pilots uav coach drone



  • DroneZon says:

    Great post. 2016 saw the first of the high spec light payload thermal sensors on small to mid sized drones. So many sectors are benefiting from this technology.

    FLIR is a massive name name for these sensors as you have pointed out. Another excellent thermal camera for drones is the Workswell WIRIS 2nd generation thermal camera.

    Keep the great post coming.

  • Jon says:

    Very cool! Look for missing pets or creepers in the night haha….
    Thanks Jon at

  • Herman Heine says:

    Hi I am looking for insight for starting a thermal imaging company using drones. I currently have my part 107 and 2 mavics and contacting real estate agents to take photos. So far just a few bites.

  • John Wells says:

    This sensor, also in the Flir One, is good for archaeological work too:

  • It’s interesting that thermal imaging is being used to inspect HVAC units. This seems like it would be a good way to see if things are overheating in certain areas of it there are areas that are leaking the cool or hot air. Maybe I should look at thermal UAV systems for sale to give to my husband for his birthday. He would really love any kind of addition to his drone.

  • John Wells says:

    As posted before, we are concerned with detecting archaeological residues from temperature changes resulting from differential transpiration, differential evaporation/drying and thermal inertia. The technique is simple and cheap but the timing can be difficult. We use kites, so the overal cost of an aerial thermal kit is less than £350.

  • Rohit says:

    Can anybody tell which is the best alternative for Flir tau and vue thermal cameras?

  • John Wells says:

    Update: Archaeological Aerial Thermography and Near Infrared Photography

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