Single Rotor and Multi Rotor Drones Face Off

Are you having trouble deciding on the basic format of your new drone technology? Granted, the multi rotor UAV may seem more impressive at first glance, but there are applications that may actually prefer single rotor action. Let's take a look at the differences between single and multi-rotor drones and how you might make an informed decision about your next purchase.

The Major Difference

Single rotor drones rely on...you guessed it - a single rotor to stay airborne. Tail rotors do not make the count - a drone with a front rotor and tail rotor is considered a single rotor device.

The multi rotor UAV relies on more than one rotor (not including the tail rotor) to stay airborne.

The Advantages of the Single Rotor UAV

Only one rotor to power means less overall power is used in the single rotor drone. This can be an important characteristic if you normally take your drones on extended flights. Single rotor UAVs will usually have much longer flight times than multi rotor drones, all else being equal.

Single rotor drones may also be better for heavy payloads, contrary to popular belief. Because the single rotor must elevate the body of the drone by itself, it must contain longer blades. Longer blades spin more slowly but maintain the same level of elevation while using much less energy overall.

Examples of when to use a single rotor

  1. Single rotors are perfect for professionals who need to lift heavier payloads (like LIDAR sensors or Magnetometers) for larger surveys. Increased payloads do not impact a single rotors flight time as much as multi-rotors.
  2. Single rotors can fly considerably faster than multi-rotors in a linear line. Therefore, they are ideal for corridor mapping applications.

The Advantages of the Multi Rotor UAV

Less moving parts does not necessarily mean less moving. If you are using a drone for professional level high definition photography, you may get a more stable hover from a multi rotor drone than from a single rotor.

If you are using a pro camera, multi rotor is definitely the way to go. You will get less vibration (maybe zero with top brands) and longer flight times, depending on the brand as well.

Examples of when to use a multi-rotor:

  1. Multi rotors are perfect for the professional cinematographer who needs to create smooth cinematic shots.
  2. Multi-rotors are also a fairly in-expensive option to complete basic mapping functions or conduct visual inspections of infrastructure.

Ease of Use?

In terms of control, the current generation of single rotor and multi rotor drones compare well against each other. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that a single rotor is necessarily easier to fly because of its single rotor.

Single rotor UAVs have a much easier time hovering vertically, although they are generally more difficult to fly than multi rotor drones. Depending on the application, single rotor UAVs can also be more dangerous than multi rotor UAVs because of their longer, heavier blades and general complexity.


Single rotor drones are usually the more expensive option between single and multi-rotor drones. However, this does not mean their application is always superior. For instance, single rotor drones can hover vertically in the air; however, multi rotors have a much easier time taking off and landing vertically.

You get more flight time and a higher payload capacity for your money with a single rotor, because most of the energy in a multi rotor is spent stabilizing the drone in the air. As a result, single rotor drones will have a larger range and greater overall endurance. However, multi rotor drones have much more maneuverability and better overall stability.

The Final Word

In all, you do not need to decide between a multi-rotor or a single rotor drone. Each have different applications, and each are perfectly suited for those applications. The choice between a multi-rotor and a single rotor drone really comes down to what job you need done. That said, if you ever need assistance deciding, please feel free to reach out to our team of professionals who have experience operating single rotor and multi-rotor drones, and currently have a fleet of both.

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