Can you drop something from a drone? [All options]

There are many things that you can drop from a drone. Using your drone to deliver parcels, provide entertainment with Halloween props, drop parachutes or drop bait for drone fishing can be the perfect use for an old or new drone. In this article, we’re going to look at the things you can drop from a drone and provide links to products and considerations for doing it safely.

You can drop many items from a drone, including water balloons, fishing lines, parachutes containing gifts or parcels, and you can use it to scare your guests with flying props. The biggest consideration is flight time, as the weight of the payload can significantly reduce battery life.

There are very few consumer-level drones that can drop payloads without using and implementing some form of third-party accessory. Using third-party accessories on your drone can be risky if they are not manufactured well.

To be able to drop something from a drone, the drone must be able to:

  • carry an appropriate amount of weight
  • remain in stable flight with increased payload
  • have enough battery power to complete the mission
  • have an external trigger system for dropping payloads at the appropriate place.

Additionally, not all drones can carry the same weight. If you want to know more about drones that can carry things, you should check out my other article – click here – right go through all of the most popular drones on the market that can carry up to 18 kg.

drones that can carry things - header

When using a drone to carry particularly heavy items, you can use several methods to increase the lifting power and upward thrust. The methods include increasing the number of propellers, increasing the battery capacity and discharge rate, increasing the power of the motors, or changing the fuel type to a gasoline or electric hybrid drone.

Here are a variety of items that you can drop from a drone. Some of them are just for fun whilst others are incredibly useful.

Things you can drop from a drone

I have the DJI Mavic Air, and I have always wanted to fly it over to my friend’s house carrying a payload of treats or water balloons. I have also toyed with the idea of using my DJI Mavic air for a drone fishing expedition for shore fishing.

Here are all of the items that people have dropped from a drone.

Water balloons

One of the most missed devious and fun things to drop from a drone is a water balloon.

Everyone enjoys a water fight in the heat of summer. Adding water balloons to a drone is the next level attack that no one expects.

The only water issue is that it is very heavy. With a density of 1 g/cm³, it can quickly become too heavy for your drone to carry for a significant amount of time. Also, drones and water do not mix well. If your drone gets wet, it can easily become irreparably damaged.

Nonetheless, with a view simple precautions dropping water balloons from your drone it can be a fun activity for summer. If you want to check out some YouTube videos, one of the most popular on YouTube is this one where Carlson Miller drops water balloons from a drone:

Fishing line

Drone fishing is becoming increasingly popular as many waterproof drones drop the bait and look underwater for fish. If you want to know more about the best drones for fishing, check out my other article – click here – where I go through all of the up-to-date and modern drones which people have been using for drone fishing.

Fishing with a drone enables you to fish from the shore and still catch massive fish. It opens up the world of game fishing to those without a boat. You can use a drone to scout new angling spots, find schools of fish, and cast your line a massive distance.

It is this powerful combination that makes drone fishing popular and effective. In this YouTube video, these fishermen can find a ball of baitfish that tuna are attacking and drop their hook right into the mix – it’s a pretty incredible sight to watch:

There are connectors for a wide variety of common consumer drones for dropping bait. Many DIY methods are a bit riskier because they rely on mechanical release systems rather than electronic triggers.

Nonetheless, using a drone to cast your fishing line into a school of hungry fish is a fantastic use of a drone drop system.

Parcels

Drones can also be used to drop parcels containing whatever supplies or treats you wish to drop. Drones have long been touted as the future of package delivery. Different countries worldwide have been testing the feasibility of using drones, and since 2013 (where Amazon prime air was announced), there has been a significant rush in technology.

I think we are several years away from this becoming commonplace since there are many issues and concerns with safety, automation, and flying a drone in densely populated cities.

The parcel mustn’t contain anything fragile which could break upon landing. The height at which you drop any parcel will determine how well it survives the airdrop.

You could deliver:

  • sweets
  • food
  • medicine
  • water
  • toys
  • or anything else your imagination can come up with.

If you want to ensure the safety of your payload, you could use a parachute to reduce its descent speed and soften the landing. Several different companies offer attachments and third-party accessories to drop more than one item during a flight mission.

Using parachutes means that you can drop fragile and non-fragile items together in the same flight without having to change the altitude from which you drop your items.

Fun things

You can also use your drone to drop fun things. Balloons (filled with air) can be a fantastic thing to drop at a party. You can also fly around Halloween props or drop centre into the middle of a kids party.

As long as it is not incredibly heavy, fragile, and the environmental conditions allow you to fly the drone safely, a drone can be put to great use for entertainment purposes.

Here are some considerations for you if you are considering dropping something from a drone – especially if it is heavy or you are dropping it into a crowd of people.

Considerations for dropping something from a drone

Using your drone to drop things means that you will likely lift something over people’s heads. Flying a drone over a crowd is often illegal, and you need the explicit permission of the people you are flying over.

Even though most drones will only do superficial damage to the human body if it hurts, I can easily blind someone. Keeping your soft and fleshy parts away from the fast-spinning propellers is very important.

People

In most countries, you are not allowed to fly above people. In Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, you have strict distance guidelines for flying near people. For example, in Australia, you have to be at least 30 m away from any people in the area. The only people allowed under the drone are people that are actively helping fly or navigate.

Before you use your drone to drop something, you should get explicit permission from the landowner and the people over which you are flying.

Weight

The next important consideration is the weight of the object that you are lifting. Lifting a heavy object decreases the drones flight time, which may catch you by surprise.

The amount of weight that a drone can lift depends on the size of the motors, the number of propellers, the battery capacity and discharge rate, and several other factors such as propeller size and pitch.

How much weight could a drone carry?

The amount of weight that a drone can carry depends on a variety of factors. Typically, people try to carry stuff with consumer-level drones. In the table below, I have compiled a list of officially stated payloads and YouTube experiments that have looked at this particular question for various drones.

DroneMaximum PayloadSource of information
DJI Matrice 600 Pro6 kgOfficial Website
Freefly Systems ALTA 812 kgOfficial Website
DJI Agras MG-110 kgOfficial Website
PD6B-AW-ARM20 kgOfficial Website
DJI Mavic Mini181 gYouTube experiment
DJI Mavic Air331 gYouTube experiment
DJI Mavic 2 Pro531 gYouTube experiment
DJI Phantom 31.1 kgYouTube Experiment
DJI Phantom 41.1 kgYouTube Experiment
DJI Spark65 gYouTube Experiment
VALKYRIE HEAVY PRO30 kgOfficial YouTube video

There is a company that has been spun out from MIT called Top Flight Technologies. They specialize in providing hybrid energy power systems to drones to do two things:

  1. Allow drones to lift and carry heavier things
  2. Increase the flight times (by ten times!)

Their unique approach to drone technology is like developing a Prius for the sky. The dual-fuel system allows the drone to fly for up to 2.5 hours while carrying about 20 pounds.

But they are not happy with just that. The startup is quietly developing a 100-kilowatt hybrid drone that can lift 100 kilograms — enough to carry a human or two — for up to three hours.

“The key is having an abundance of power and total energy. That’s what petrol and gasoline gives you. Using a high-energy-density energy source like gasoline, and converting it to electric power, and doing it efficiently, gives you the equivalent of a ‘super battery.'”

Long Phan, Top Flight Technologies

The future for heavy listing drones looks exciting and far beyond what we can achieve right now!

Water damage

You’ll notice that a couple of the example things you can drop include flying with water or overwater. If you are flying over water, like in drone fishing, I highly recommend getting yourself a waterproof drone. You can check out the best waterproof drones in my other article – click here.

Waterproof drones

If water gets into the drone’s body, it can easily damage the internal electronics and short the circuit boards. In a water fight, the water’s direction is unpredictable, which can increase the likelihood that water will enter the vents of a drone (that are there to dissipate the huge amount of heat generated).

It would help if you were super careful with your drone anywhere near water. It will be the first thing to cause significant damage to your drone.

The fragility of the dropped item

Lastly, the fragility of the item you want to drop will play an important role in determining the altitude you are comfortable dropping the payload.

If you are dropping a fragile item, you can either use a parachute, or you can drop the item from a much lower altitude. If the item is particularly fragile, you can choose to land before releasing the item.

Some of the best products for dropping your stuff from your drone are included below.

Products for dropping stuff from your drone

Drone Sky Hook

Skyhook is a company that has been around for a relatively long time, and they specialize in hooks for a variety of DJI consumer drones. They can be used for drone fishing, drone delivery and payload release. They have patented technology and devices that can quickly attach to DJI Mavic series drones and the Phantom series.

No modifications are required to your drone, and no tools are needed to attach their products. Some other products require that you attach the drone to the front LED light. I like this product because the third-party attachment does not affect any of the sensor capabilities.

STARTRC Mavic Air 2S Dropping System

There are various airdropping systems on Amazon – click here to be taken to some of the most popular – and they even are available for the most up-to-date drones.

One of the most popular allows you to carry items on the DJI Mavic air 2S. It detects the LED light system of the drone and, when it is turned on, the airdrop will be activated. It can carry up to 500 g, which is perfect for small balloons and small parcels.

Summary

In this article, we have been over everything you need to know about dropping something from your drone. Doing it safely relies on you dropping relatively small parcels from a safe height and making sure that you do not injure anyone underneath you by getting explicit permission for flying over a crowd.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. Andy started droneflyingpro.com to share his love and the research of all things drone! He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drone. His favorite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!