Using a First Person View (FPV) drone gives you the feeling of flying right along with your drone, and offers an alternate means of controlling the drone. Any aircraft capable of carrying a video transmitter and small camera can be used for FPV. That being said, what exactly is an FPV drone?
A First Person View (FPV) drone is piloted with a controller in conjunction with the user wearing a pair of goggles connected to an onboard camera. It offers a more immersive, “virtual reality” type experience than conventional drone flying.
Read below to learn more features of FPV and everything you need to know about FPV drones.
What does FPV mean on a drone?
In drone flying, FPV means that you pilot your drone from its point of view via an onboard camera instead of your point of view on the ground. A video camera is mounted on your drone, and it relays the live video to you on the ground.
This method allows you to fly your drone farther and faster without getting confused. It also makes flying a drone a more immersive, flight-like experience than staring at your drone and trying to control it from your position on the ground.
FPV drones aren’t too different from conventional drones. Even though both drones have onboard cameras capable of transmitting videos, the video is sent to a compatible receiver on the ground in FPV mode. The pilot sees the video feed through video goggles or a monitor.
You can use cinema-grade monitors or your smartphone to receive and watch the live video transmissions. However, the best method is to use video goggles that are specifically designed for FPV uses if you want an immersive experience. High-quality video goggles make you feel like you’re in the drone’s cockpit.
What are FPV Drones Used For?
The primary use of an FPV drone is racing. Even though you can use conventional drones for some FPV purposes, not all of them are good for racing. This is because your drone and the ground receiver must meet specific standards that most conventional or non-racing drones can’t.
Drone racing has grown to be a popular sport across the world. It serves as a means of immersing yourself in virtual reality, tech, and fun. You can compete in open places such as fields or forests or abandoned warehouses, each type of venue offering unique thrills.
All you need to do is get the equipment and look for people interested in competing with you, or join a local club. If you’re interested in more intense action, you can join racing leagues.
Search & Rescue
FPV drones are also used for search and rescue operations. Since they transmit live video to the pilot in record time, they help locate people in need of help. Search and rescue missions with FPV drones don’t have to risk the lives of rescue personnel to save people.
With FPV drones, rescue missions can scout large disaster areas or burning buildings for survivors. These drones transmit live footage to the rescue team, who prepares rescue efforts accordingly.
It would take a lot of time to manually inspect every inch of structures like towers, bridges, etc., but FPV drones make the work easier, faster and safer. Engineers can spot faulty areas from the drone’s live video transmission as long as the drone’s pilot is skilled enough to shoot close videos of the structure. Besides, FPV drones help eliminate the danger involved in these kinds of inspections.
Since FPV drones can fly farther and higher, farmers can use them to get a detailed picture of crops on a large land area, analyze their crop health and map their farmlands. FPV drones can be equipped with sensors and thermal imaging that give the live videos greater accuracy and more useful types of data.
Due to the accurate information FPV drones provide, they are used to map locations that can be difficult to reach, such as islands, mountain tops, coastlines, etc. The high-resolution videos and pictures can be used to create three-dimensional maps and high-end mapping applications.
FPV drones can also be equipped with special sensors that make it easy to get new insights about the behavior of dangerous weather conditions like hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Weather forecasters use these insights to determine the trajectory of such hazardous weather conditions and warn people to stay away from such paths.
You can shoot excellent videos and photos with FPV drones too. Most fast-paced scenes in movies and sports are shot using FPV drones. Journalists also use FPV drones to collect information during live broadcasts.
Are FPV Drones Legal?
In most countries, flying FPV drones aren’t illegal. However, there are guidelines for flying FPV drones. These guidelines help mitigate many of the hazards that can be inherent in FPV drone flight.
There have been several reports of FPV drones flying close to manned aircraft or beyond the stipulated altitude restrictions. Since these sightings are beyond the normal range of sight, many regulators and government officials have started questioning the use of FPV drones. To ensure safety and adherence to FAA regulations, a drone pilot using FPV goggles is required to have a visual observer that will help them maintain the visual line of sight requirement with the drone. This visual observer must maintain visual contact with the drone, and must be within several feet and in clear communication of the actual pilot.
Some pilots are careless or ignorant of the laws governing the use of air space when flying their FPV drones. Pilots are required to know the location of their aircraft and maneuver it from colliding with other aircraft in the air. They must be aware of their surroundings and not injure any person or property.
They must also register their drones if they will be flying outdoors and get the necessary safety equipment. They aren’t allowed to fly near an airport, over/under people, or after dark without adequate lighting. If their town has guidelines for flying FPV drones, they should strictly adhere to them.
Is Long-range FPV Illegal?
Increasing the range of your FPV drone to explore more cinematic angles for your videos and photos is exciting. While it is not illegal, there are some precautionary steps to take.
For instance, the rule of thumb is to fly as far as you can go and still be able to pick up your drone if it crashes. This means that if you fly farther than your transmitter allows, you want to still be able to recover your drone when it crashes.
Also, always keep your drone in your line of sight (or that of a visual observer). Avoid flying to risky places like under trees, the other side of a mountain, etc., as obstructions can disrupt your radio and video signals and make you lose your frequency, and the control of your drone.
Inspect your environment for possible obstructions before you take off. Take note of visual markers on the ground so that you’ll know where you are at any point in time. Don’t fly when it’s windy, and ensure you have enough battery to cover both the outgoing and homebound flight.
Is an FPV Drone Hard to Fly?
Flying FPV drones can be hard to master at first, but with practice, it becomes easier. I would recommend you use an FPV flight simulator before you start flying an actual drone. The chances you crash during your first flight are high; you should reduce the cost of damage.
In addition, how easy it is to maneuver an FPV drone depends on the model. Some drone models are easy to control compared to others due to their intelligent flight functions, among other factors.
If you want to minimize your crashes, you need to pay full attention while flying your drone. Ensure your hand-eye coordination is steady as well, and try to eliminate all distractions.
Do You Need a License to Fly FPV?
It may not be a well-known fact, but you actually do need to obtain an amateur ham radio license to fly your FPV drone legally. You can fly your FPV drone without this license; however, if you exceed the frequency bands, you could violate your country’s regulations regarding FPV. I would recommend that you pass the amateur license exam at the “Technician” level so that you can fly your FPV legally.
Getting a license will also give you more freedom to explore the special privileges that come with it, such as flying for long ranges or using more power. To stay out of trouble with the law, ensure you buy FPV drones and accessories compliant with your town’s guidelines and obey all rules.
Can You Fly an FPV Drone Without Goggles?
FPV goggles are one of the essential accessories for flying your FPV drone. You need them to see what your drone sees and to immerse yourself in the FPV experience fully.
They help you feel like you’re in the drone’s cockpit. Without a pair of FPV goggles, your FPV experience is incomplete. They come in different sizes and features, but you need to get a good pair if you want to fully enjoy flying your FPV drone.
Some of the factors you need to consider when buying a pair of FPV goggles include the field of view, aspect ratio, form factor, etc. The field of view means how big the screen of your goggles are, while the aspect ratio means 4:3 or 16:9. The form factor means the different styles of FPV goggles which could be low profile goggles, box goggles, or FPV screens.
Low profile goggles are the most popular type. They have small LCD screens and a unique magnifying lens that enlarges the pictures or videos you see. They are comfortable to wear, unlike box goggles and FPV screens, and can easily be carried around.
Flying a drone in First Person View is one of the most immersive experiences you can enjoy. Ensure you fly in good weather conditions and err on the side of caution.