Are you interested in flying drones without risking your valuable quadcopter? Are you familiar with drone simulators?
Drone simulators are computer programs designed for practicing your drone flying skills. They give you a realistic experience even if you are not out in the field.
They are fun to use and very effective in helping you learn how to maneuver a quadcopter. Actually, I tried one before I bought my first expensive drone to the field and I must say that I felt more confident flying it because it felt like I had already flown it.
I also use drone simulators when I want to experiment with new tricks. I have encountered countless crashes and failures in the simulator but not when I’m out in the field. If you want to experience the same advantages, then you are just in the right place.
Best Drone Simulators
DJI is the most popular brand in the drone market and they understand the importance of drone simulators. So they bring us DJI Flight Simulator, a professional pilot training software that uses DJI’s leading flight control technology to recreate the natural flying experience.
This includes three flight modes, multiple POVs and comprehensive physics engine. This is designed to help you hone your piloting skills without the potential risks and costs associated with real-life training. Of course, you wouldn’t buy an expensive drone and just crash it as you practice, right?
DJI Flight Simulator has a unique flight control technology that analyzes and adapts to create the most realistic simulated flying experience. When you use this, you’ll forget that you’re only using a simulator because the experience feels so real.
DJI wants you to experience all the possibilities when flying a drone, so they also added wind effects, ground effects, and simulated crashes. They also offer a training module to improve your piloting skills.
There are basic flight tutorials and free flight that allows you to explore a variety of environments and different flight condition. That’s not all, there’s application training too for specific workflows such as power line inspections or search and rescue mission. Isn’t that cool?
DJI Flight Simulator is the coolest and most realistic drone simulator out there. It also supports various drones including Mavic series, Phantom series, Inspire series and more. So if you are a DJI fan looking for a drone simulator, look no further, try DJI Flight Simulator.
- Three flight modes
- Multiple POVs
- Comprehensive physics engine
- Include life-like environment
- Has a training module
- Supports various DJI drones
- Only supports the new and expensive DJI drones
- Skills training are only available for Enterprise and Energy versions
Hotprops is one of the most popular free drone simulators. This quadcopter racing simulator offers great graphics and realistic flight physics which makes it very popular and one of the favorites of drone enthusiasts.
The man behind this wanted this to be a realistic drone racing simulator. So aside from offering impressive interface, it includes freestyle and race modes for online multiplayer racing. This is a great opportunity to test your skills against others.
In addition, it gives you tons of freedom to experiment because you can adjust the drone parameters like the number of battery cells, the number of propellers and motors, and even the weight of the aircraft.
Unfortunately, the developer decided to stop working on this because he had no time. He confessed that he only developed this as a hobby. But don’t worry because it is still accessible if you want to try it. He shared the files on his Facebook page.
- Realistic graphics
- Great flight physics
- Has freestyle and race modes
- Drone parameters can be changed
- Developer decided to stop working on it
- You can’t expect any update or improvement anymore
RealFlight RF8 Horizon gives you the classic feel with upgraded capabilities when flying drones on your screen. It features incredible realism with its True-To-Life Physics that make piloting a simulated drone more lifelike and fun.
If you want an immersive flying experience, good news, this is VR compatible. You can use Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE VR sets and instantly feel like you are in the field flying your drone.
For a more enjoyable flying experience, this drone simulator includes challenges and multiplayer options that allow you to hone your piloting skills with game-like challenges. You can compete against your own best times with Ghost Run or challenge other players online for multiplayer combats events like Dead Ringer, Machine Gun, Streamer Cut, Hardcore Combat, Rocket, and Paintball.
Also, you can customize your experience by modifying the setting with your preferred control surface, engine sound, trim schemes, location, environment, electronics and more. You are free to experiment because most are customizable.
Overall, RealFlight RF8 is a great simulator to train yourself in RC flight. This is highly recommended.
- Incredible realism
- VR Compatible
- Challenges and multiplayer options
- Customizable experience
- Not free
AeroSim RC is a fully functional RC flight simulator system that offers you a training platform to learn how to fly RC aircraft safely. For experienced pilots who wish to practice new routines or try new tricks, this simulator will be of great help to you.
AeroSIM RC supports almost every type of RC model aircraft including airplanes, helicopters, and multi-rotor aircraft like quadcopter and hexacopter to name a few. In addition, it offers FPV flight scenarios, training programs, model tuning and more. So, you will learn a lot from this to improve your piloting skills.
What makes this set apart from the other RC drone simulators is the wide variety of multi-rotor simulation it offers. However, this works with Windows only and you need a USB adapter to connect to a radio transmitter.
Overall, this is a great simulator which makes it a good platform to practice especially if you have bad motor skills and want to experience flying a drone before actually going into the field. When I used this, I noticed that it helped me maneuver a new aircraft smoothly when I flew it outdoors for the first time after spending a day of flying it using this RC drone simulator. This is worth it!
- Has FPV flight scenarios
- Offers training programs
- Includes model tuning
- Supports different aircrafts
- Great for both beginners and experts
- Only supports Windows
- USB is required to connect to the adapter
Real Drone Simulator (RDS) is another fun game-based simulator. This is available for free but it’s an ongoing passion project. This can be buggy and unstable, but the developers are dedicated to keeping this going because they release updates from time to time.
The team behind this uses community donations to fund the simulator. The good thing is they have the support and licensed permission from different drone makers including EMAX and JJRC. You can connect a real transmitter to the software, but it’s not easy to do, so you’ve got to be patient.
At the time, RDS is still in its Alpha version and they have made such a big improvement. Following their latest release, the quadcopters look beautiful and realistic. In addition, the environment looks better and attractive.
Although RDS is not a finished product, I’m very happy with it because it’s free and it’s a great drone simulator. The men behind this have really done a great job with it. So, you better check it out and support them.
- Beautiful and realistic
- Has several partners in the drone market
- Developers keep on improving it
- Still in alpha version
- Has a lot of things that need to be improved
What is a Drone Simulator
A drone simulator or flight simulator is a device that artificially re-creates aircraft flights and the environment during flights. This is designed for different purposes including pilot training, designing and developing an aircraft, researching about the aircraft’s characteristics and controlling its handling qualities.
Simulators replicate the way how an aircraft flies and respond to your controls appropriately. The simulated drone reacts to the environment (wind, obstacles, other simulated crashes) the way it would in real life.
If you want to invest in an expensive drone, it’s best if you practice via drone simulators first. Of course, you don’t want to damage your drone by crashing it continuously while you hone your skills.
A drone simulator offers you actual flight experience without damaging or losing your new drone. This software program offers you realistic flight dynamics with advanced combinations of direction to fully immerse you in flying quadcopters without putting your valuable drone at the risk of getting damaged.
Why Use a Drone Simulator?
Drone simulators have been created for a purpose – to help you hone your piloting skills. By using them, you will also know ahead if you really love flying drones or not, which is helpful especially if you are still not decided whether you get one or not.
If you try drone simulators and you love it, you’ll definitely enjoy it more when you fly an actual quadcopter. The simulator should be enough to give you an impression about this activity.
Here is a list of drone simulator benefits and why you should try it.
1. It's free
There are free drone simulators that you can access online. For instance, Hotprops FPV Race Simulator and Real Drone Simulator are free drone simulators. This means that anyone who wants to use a drone simulator can actually access it. Just download, install and start flying.
The downside of free drone simulators is the fact that they are not fully functional yet. They are still in development and sometimes the developers just drop the project, so you won’t receive any updates anymore. But at least you can access them without spending a penny.
2. Doesn't require any drone or controller
Pro drone pilots use specific RC controllers with a variety of settings for control and they can be expensive. As for drone simulators, you can just connect your gaming controller to the computer and use the joysticks to maneuver the aircraft. The monitor shows off the first person view, so you won’t need any expensive flight google to experience the fun.
3. Faster resetting
When you drive an actual drone and crash it, you have to stop and go look for your quadcopter. Doing so can be time-consuming and frustrating especially if you can’t locate your aircraft easily.
With a drone simulator, you just have to press a button and you’re back to your position and ready to fly again. You’ll have more hours learning the craft.
4. Compete against other pilots
Most drone simulators offer a multiplayer mode that lets you compete with other online users. If you are into racing, then this is a good opportunity to test your skills against the other pilots. Thanks to this feature, you don’t need to travel to experience drone racing.
5. Great platform to practice
Drone racing isn’t easy at all, so practicing using a drone simulator is a smart way to hone your skills while keeping you and your drone safe. You can also use this tool to practice your new tricks or train for real-world applications like search and rescue.
How to Fly a Drone with a Simulator
If you are getting a drone simulator for your existing drone you should first check if it supports your remote drone controller. If it does, then you are good to go. If it doesn’t find one that supports your RC drone.
Next, look for USB connectivity. Using a drone simulator means you will be flying your drone using your controller in the computer, so it should recognize your remote controller. You may need to download additional drivers or software for this.
After you check these technical issues, you are ready to get a drone simulator. Take note that there are several types of drone simulators. Some are designed for big drones while others are for small drones.
Also, there are drone simulators that are built to help you practice your flying skills, while others are designed to help you for drone filming or to train you into real-life applications like search and rescue.
Drone simulators are a great platform to practice piloting. Thanks to these tools, you will get to experience real flying experience without actually going into the field and piloting your drone. Once you go out and fly your drone, you won’t feel like it’s your first time even if it is.
In this way, your drone is safe because you have already practiced before actually flying it. So, you are less likely to crash and damage it. This is also a great platform to practice new tricks. A drone simulator is a must for every drone enthusiast.
What drone simulator do you use? Why do you love it? Feel free to share your drone simulator experience with us!