Updated for 2021
If you’re looking for VR Drones you might have a different thing in mind compared to the next person, as there are a few very different types of drones, headsets, and ways you can approach this.
In this article I’ll go over all of the types someone might think of, clear every confusion you might have, and also recommend you the best quadcopters and kits (with VR headsets) for different needs and budgets.
A VR Drone is any drone that comes with the ability to use a pair of Virtual Reality goggles to see the live feed from the camera.
However, In this article, I’ll show you a cheap way to turn some drones into VR drones without them coming in a special kit.
While the word VR comes from Virtual Reality since the drone is actually transmitting footage from the real world, I would say the name really doesn’t match.
Does a VR Headset differ from FPV drone Goggles?
Yes they differ as the VR Headset is used for typical stabilized camera drones or with Phones and the signal is digital. At the same time, FPV goggles is a term that tends to be used for Racing drones with tiny FPV cameras with very low latency (analogue).
The VR goggles could also be simple phone VR goggles while the phone is connected to the live feed of the drone.
We’ll cover every type in this article, so don’t worry there won’t be any stones unturned
As mentioned previously, there are pretty much 3 types of Goggles you can get for a drone. In this section we'll take a look at which of these make for the best choice in your case.
Even though pretty much all these goggles are theoretically FPV (First Person View), the typical understanding for this term is used alongside racing drones.
Check my article about the best FPV Drone goggles for every budget.
These are used with racing quadcopters and don’t work with anything else, as they are specially made to work with an analog signal at 5.8ghz.
There are exceptions to this, like the new DJI FPV drone that has a Digital signal and very low image lag.
It’s way harder to fly FPV drones, but super fun, so if you’re looking for this kind of experience, make sure to invest the time to learn things properly.
By specialized VR headsets I mean something like DJI released for the Mavic and Phantom 4 Series a while ago. These DJI goggles are more expensive since they actually have high quality 1080p screens inside of them and antennas that connect directly to the drone itself.There’s also controls you can have directly from the goggles and come with Head Tracking.
Theoretically, you could use a phone VR headset (that’s just a case for your phone pretty much) to have VR for Any Drone that has a live feed directly to the phone itself.
And that works for sure…
However, there are a few issues with that method:
However, there’s a great fix to all of these problems (however it works only with DJI drones)
The solution implies solving the problems mentioned above by using the following:
There are huge benefits to making your standard DJI drone like a Phantom 4 or a DJI Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2 even into a VR drone:
P.S. Legislation mentions the need for using a spotter when flying any drone FPV so be careful for that.
1.Buy yourself a pair of comfortable VR goggles for your phone. These ones that I recommend are what I got, they are cheap, have plenty of settings for adjustments, and are quite comfortable.
2.Start up your drone and connect it to the phone through the cable.
3.Buy the app called Litchy (which is a popular app alternative to DJIs own application with more features than just this)
4.Connect to the app with the drone and hit the VR button.
Now the screen will split into 2 sections with a slight Fisheye effect to perfectly cover your field of view.
You can even tweak some settings including head tracking and turning the on-screen display on or off.
The ability to track your head movement up and down adds a very welcomed layer of immersion.
The app has been updated for both ios and android to work with the DJI Mini 2 in VR also.
If you happen to have the DJI Inspire, you’re in luck, as this will mean the head tracking will be available 360 degrees around you as you turn too.
In this section, we're looking at what other VR setups you can choose that can be great depending on the specific drone you might want to choose.
While the DJI Tello isn’t made to be a VR drone, what you get in this package will make it into one.
You’re getting 2 batteries, a bluetooth remote controller and a pair of VR Goggles for your phone (none of which you’d get in the standard package).
This makes it a great choice for people who are on a low budget yet want to experience simple drone flying with VR goggles without having to go through the hoops of learning to build or fly FPV drones.
If, on the other hand, you’re interested in trying FPV drones on a budget and want something to follow you through your entire journey from beginner to expert. The Tinyhawk 2 is a perfect mini FPV quadcopter that can fit that role.
The tinyhawk 2 is no joke, a tinywhoop brushless quadcopter that’s under 250 grams.
It’s suited for both beginners as well as more advanced pilots. It can be used indoors too, but it’s main use should be outdoors, as it comes with some really powerful motors and can use both 1s as well as 2s batteries.
It comes in a very complete package including the FPV Goggles, controller, spare batteries and other accessories like a multi charger and spare props.
3 axis gimbal
Ok, this is not cheap overall as a package, but it’s definitely cheap as an addition to the drone itself.
Here’s why the Parrot Anafi makes for such a great FPV VR drone.
It comes by default with an FPV mode included (no need to buy the litchi app) and what’s quite unique about it is that the camera can also move up 90 degrees, so the degree of freedom when moving your head and using head tracking is unmatched by any other drone.
What’s more, the drone itself is quite great and well priced for a camera drone. It’s one of the main DJI Mavic competitors and comes with awesome features like follow me, lossless zoom and a stabilized 4k camera. Everything fits in a compact foldable package and it comes with many interesting flight modes.
Buying a DJI mavic combined with the DJI FPV Goggles is the best combo you can get if you want something high end, yet aren’t interested in FPV drones.
The footage you can see in those ready made goggles is much better than what you can see on your phone and the head tracking is quite precise.
The new DJI FPV Drone is on another level compared to any drone out there at the time of writing this article.
The Digital FPV quality you see in the goggles is unparalleled for how low of a latency you’re getting, and what’s more you can record the footage from the same camera in 4k stabilized, without the need for a Gopro for example, which would cost you a lot more additionally.
What’s more this drone comes with multiple safety features like sensors, auto landing and precise GPS to return itself to home (revolutionary for the FPV industry).
In this section we'll take a look at some of the more frequently asked questions to see if any of these answers can help you.
VR Drones can cost anything between $100 (for a really cheap setup) up to over $1000 for a more complex head-tracking and great quality camera drone combo.
Fortunately in this article I also teach how to get cheap VR out of DJI drones.
Yes, you can use a VR headset with a drone by putting the phone inside the headset and using a proper app for splitting the image in VR mode.
The DJI FPV Simulator is available for free on their app and it can be controlled by the use of either the joysticks on the screen or by connecting a remote controller to the phone. Most other FPV drone simulators can be streamed via HDMI on a monitor or FPV goggles to experience real VR flight.
Experiencing proper FPV or VR with a drone requires a pretty good quality drone, so expect to pay a bit to get it. Even though you can make the experience cheaper on the headset side, you can’t compromise that much when it comes to the drone, as the live-streamed video quality will greatly influence how great the experience of flight is.
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