Yuneec's first commercial drone is ready for filming and rescue

The H520 can carry broadcast and thermal imaging cameras.

Yuneec may be DJI's biggest consumer drone rival, but you probably have only heard of its consumer and selfie drones. Now, it's taking a step into the big leagues with a new model, the H520. The big, six rotor UAV with bright orange visibility is meant for commercial jobs, including video production, public safety, and inspection. It's equipped with a retractable landing gear, mission planning software and a variety of cameras, including a thermal imaging model and one with a two-inch sensor.

The landing gear allows a 360-degree, unobstructed view, and the stabilizing gimbal can tilt 20 degrees upward for inspections. There are three of hot-swappable camera options, including the E90, with a 1-inch, 20-megapixel Sony Exmor sensor, not unlike what Sony uses on its RX100 models (there's no mention of 4K support). The other models are a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor wide angle camera (for inspection of cell towers, wind turbines, oil & gas platforms and the like), and a dual thermal imaging camera that can shoot regular and thermal video at the same time.

The H520 package includes a "professional grade" Android controller, with a 7-inch display and 720P real-time video download link, and can support external monitors via HDMI. The DataPilot software, meanwhile, lets you do survey and waypoint-based flight. An SDK is included, and the UAV can also be "operated as a closed architecture," to keep images and data secure, Yuneec says.

To be sure, the H520 drone is a niche product, but it's a good sign that Yuneec is ready to up its game against DJI by entering its commercial turf. It's now available for $1,999 to $4,699, depending on the camera and other options, and a service contract is extra.

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