UAV, RPAS, UAS... or simply a 'drone' as most of us know it. Whatever you wish to call it, the drone industry continues to grow and expand every day. And so does consumer interest, with more and more commercial drones being released onto the market.
We can distinguish three types of commercially available drones: camera/inspection drones, racing drones and toy drones. Each with differing price ranges, from a $50 drone up to drones in the $20,000 range and beyond.
Either way, it is essential to learn and know how to fly a drone safely. But wouldn't it be great if you could learn how to fly a drone before you purchase one?
If you feel like testing the waters, it could prove useful to take a look at a mobile app called 'QuadcopterFx Simulator'. The app is available for both iPhone and Android devices. Surprisingly enough, the app offers a realistic drone flying experience in terms of physics and controls.
After consulting multiple reviews on both the App Store and Google Play, as well as testing it ourselves, we can conclude that QuadcopterFx Simulator is in fact an effective tool to utilize in the quest of learning how to fly a drone.
It's not just a game either. It's not easy nor hard, it is in fact quite realistic. Actual flight experience will of course still be superior, but $4.99 is worth negating the risk of damaging or losing a new drone whilst you attempt to get a grasp of the controls.
As fun as drones can be, the actual flight dynamics are quite advanced considering all combinations of direction that are possible through the compounded axis. So with QuadcopterFx Simulator, it's possible to get immersed in the piloting of a drone without putting your valuable drone at risk of getting damaged, or worse; causing harm to yourself or others.
There are a couple of drone simulators available for Windows, Mac and SteamOS + Linux as well.
'Real Drone Simulator' is a more entertainment-based simulator, but still a viable option to consider if you'd like to fly a drone in virtual airspace and get familiar with the controls. The game is free of charge and can be found at www.realdronesimulator.com. However, it is the only simulator on this list that is only available for Windows.
On the other hand there's 'Liftoff', which is focused on bringing first-person view drone racing to the digital world. The game requires a controller as there is no keyboard support. It is available on Steam and can be ran on Windows, Mac and SteamOS + Linux. Take a look at a video review below:
'DRL Drone Racing Simulator' is the 'official simulator' of the professional Drone Racing League. The simulator features courses from the actual competition. It's compatible with both console and RC controllers. This sim is also available on Steam and is compatible with Windows and Mac systems.
If you're interested in drones in general, or in getting a drone and/or learning how to fly one, you won't regret giving one of these simulators a try.
Being able to fly in a simulator doesn't mean you can fly (as well) in the real world though. Flying a drone in the real world still takes real world practice. Regardless, the sims can be useful tools to gain some familiarity with drone flight controls, while you get to have a bit of fun as well. What's not to like?