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What are FPV drones? Everything you need to know

What are FPV drones? Does it even matter?

Updated: Apr 20, 2023 12:59 pm
What are FPV drones? Everything you need to know

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What are FPV drones? It’s a question we’ve seen bandied about on the internet a lot, and as drone piloting increases in popularity, more and more people are in need of answers.

So we thought we’d put together a short page to educate the newcomers to this fantastic hobby, as FPV refers to a specific type of drone, and knowing the differences between various drones is something you’ll need to know.

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What are FPV drones? The short answer

FPV stands for ‘first-person view‘. This means that you wear a pair of goggles that display live footage from the camera on the drone itself. Essentially, you see what the drone sees, in real-time, from a first-person view (FPV), allowing you to pilot more precisely.

How do FPV drones work?

The drone has a camera built-in, typically at the nose (front end) of the aircraft. This camera wirelessly transmits what it sees to a pair of goggles worn by the pilot, ideally, with very low or zero latency.

The video feed is transmitted via radio waves, typically using the 2.4 or 5.8GHz frequency, which helps cut down on interference. As radio waves are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, they propagate at the speed of light, which is around 300,000,000 meters per second.

So, the signal travels as fast as light, but, just like light, it can get blocked, reflected, or scattered. This means that reliability will vary depending on your surroundings.

As is the case with light, physical obstructions are the worst, producing the most substantial interference and delays. Luckily, drones are aircraft, meaning that they are typically used in wide open spaces anyway.

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What are FPV drones? A slightly longer answer

FPV drones have a lot of uses, with racing being the most famous, and in some cases lucrative. FPV drones are the most common for racing as a first-person view is inarguably conducive to the precise piloting of scarily fast drones.`

Drone racing began in Germany around 2011, with a set of fairly informal races in the town of Karlsruhe, Germany. Nowadays, there are many official drone racing bodies, akin to the FIA and FIFA for Formula One and Football, respectively.

Outside of advantages related to piloting, having a first-person view is invaluable for drone photography, as you know exactly what’s in the frame, meaning that you need not use an additional viewfinder.

In short, FPV drones make it so you can operate the drone entirely alone, with no spotter or camera operator.

FPV drone uses

So, what are FPV drones used for? For what uses are they better than other types of drones? Well, we’ve already covered that they are particularly ideal for racing and photography, due to the more intuitive way of seeing what the drone is seeing.

There are also interesting applications for search and rescue, where drones can rapidly and safely cover large distances and tricky terrains. Given that speed is of the essence during a rescue mission, the first-person perspective afforded by FPV drones is hugely beneficial.

In fact, according to BBC news, the Scotland Search and Rescue Aerial Association considers the use of drones to be ‘a game changer’. Additionally, many of these drones are equipped with speakers, allowing the search teams to transmit messages to the stranded traveler, and allowing the rescue team to give instructions and warnings.

What is FPV on a drone?

FPV stands for first-person view. When talking about drones, this means that the video feed is transmitted to a set of goggles, allowing the pilot to control the drone from a first-person perspective.

What’s the difference betweeen FPV and normal drones?

Normal drones don’t utilise goggles, with the video feed going to a phone, tablet, or other such external display instead. These displays are often mounted directly to the controller for ease of use.

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