The first-person view drone can make your flying dreams come true and do a whole lot more.
Being able to fly like a bird in the sky may be one of your childhood dreams. While current technology hasn’t given us wings, the first-person view (FPV) drone offers us an alternative for now. Traditional drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems, were initially designed for military purposes, such as anti-aircraft practice and intelligence gathering.
As drone technology continues to grow, people now use drones for different purposes, including photography, surveillance and delivery. The rising demand for drones breeds different drone models, with the FPV drone being one of them. If it’s the first time you’ve learned about this technology, or you’re thinking if you should buy one, this article will give you the answer.
What is a first-person view drone and how does it work?
An FPV drone offers us, by far, the most immersive flying experience because we can see what our drones see. What gives the FPV drone the magic is its onboard camera. This can be used to transmit a live stream from the drone directly to our FPV goggles, headset, phones or another display simulating the experience of flying across the sky. To obtain that first-person view, you can buy an FPV drone with an onboard camera or buy a separate onboard camera and fit it with a traditional drone.
Besides the onboard camera, an FPV drone works basically the same way as a traditional drone. However, since you can disable the FPV function when you want to switch back for a more standard drone flying experience, the FPV drone wins with its versatility.
Some major FPV drone applications
Since the Wright brothers invented the first aircraft (known as the Wright Flyer) more than a century ago, we can now fly and travel comfortably on an airplane. While airplanes and other transportation can take us almost anywhere, there are places on Earth we can’t visit without technology.
Ellis van Jason, a celebrated cinematic FPV drone pilot and videographer, captured the world’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall Angel Falls (which is 979 meters high) in Venezuela with his FPV drone. In the three-minute video clip, the drone brought viewers an immersive, dynamic and fast-paced visual experience of diving down the waterfall. With the FPV drone, Van Jason can explore every place on Earth like a bird and share the beauty of the planet with the whole world.
Managing a crop field can be demanding, especially if it’s extensive. In the old days, farmers needed to go down to the field in person to apply pesticides, fertilizer or sow seeds under the bright sun. Now, FPV drone technology has completely revolutionized farming with crop-spraying.
DJI (short for Da-Jiang Innovations), a drone manufacturer based in China, released a crop-spraying flagship drone named Agras T30 last year. Unlike the aerial photography drones under DJI, Agras T30 is a drone that helps apply pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. The drone has specific agricultural drone features, such as the 16 nozzles that enable the drone to cover 40 acres per hour. It is also equipped with dual FPV cameras, which are intended to provide farmers with clearer front and rear views during work.
Search and rescue
The technology used in search and rescue (SAR) has advanced considerably over the years. For instance, we have PackBots, a robot that helped search for victims in the 9/11 attacks; and snakebots, a remote-controlled snake-like metal robot that can pass through gaps under the rubble and detect human presence). Besides robots that operate on the ground, we also need to add aerial technology to our toolkit for more efficient SAR performance.
This is where FPV drones come into play. With the drone, rescue teams can search for survivors in remote regions or infrastructures without climbing over collapsed buildings. Since FPV drone cameras offer a wide range of functions, a rescue team can even operate FPV drones with different cameras, such as night vision and thermal imaging cameras simultaneously to speed up the rescue progress.
FPV drones may be a fun thing to have, but…
An FPV drone can be expensive
This may be frustrating to hear but yes, an FPV drone can be very expensive. For instance, FreeFly’s latest FPV drone Alta X has a starting cost of US$15,995, and DJI’s Inspire 2 can cost you US$2,999 and reach up to US$10,499 when fully equipped with controllers, extra flight batteries and more. If these drone costs are way out of your budget, but you still want to go on board, there are two options you can consider.
First, although many FPV drones are expensive, some are affordable. If your budget is below US$200, you may consider Makerfire Blue Shark Micro FPV RTF Racing Drone, which costs only US$102.99 on Amazon. Don’t worry, the price already includes the drone, the remote and the FPV goggles, so you don’t need to buy anything extra and can fly it immediately once it’s delivered to your home.
Second, if you already own a traditional drone, the simplest way to turn it into an FPV drone is to buy and set up an onboard camera on your drone. The good news is, there are lots of FPV drone camera options on the internet. For example, you can bring a Caddx Ant analog FPV camera home for just US$19.9 on Amazon.
You always need to follow your local drone laws
Studying drone laws online can be intimidating because they vary from region to region, and not everyone can understand legalese. To make it simpler, a VPN company named Surfshark visualized 200 countries’ drone privacy laws and presented them as maps. This offers users an effortless way to understand their local drone laws and allows them to fly their drones safely and legitimately.
If you’re a complete beginner to FPV drones, make sure you can stand motion sickness when seeing through the eyes of the drone. The fast-paced flying action can make you feel nauseous when you fully immerse yourself in the journey. If that doesn’t bother you, you’re good to go.
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Header image courtesy of Unsplash