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Drones with return to home feature(RTH) – My top 5 GPS autopilot drones

Top Drones with return to home feature (RTH)

You are looking for drones that can return home automatically because  you know how much of an advantage that can be.

Most expensive GPS drones do have this feature, but which are the best ones?

Let’s find out a little more about RTH technology in drones and what that can do for you. Also, bellow you’ll find a table with my top 5 Auto-pilot Drones. Hope it will help you get the perfect drone for your budget and requirements.

We will refer to RTH as the ability of a drone to come back by itself to the point it took off from.

So this means it’s not actually your home, but wherever you launched the drone from, be that a point next to a tree in a park, or on top of a roof.

thuuum

What is return to home?

I think you already know the answer to this basic question, but there are a few details and types of return to home technology that you might not know about.

We will refer to RTH as the ability of a drone to come back by itself to the point it took off from.

So this means it’s not actually your home, but wherever you launched the drone from, be that a point next to a tree in a park, or on top of a roof.

Types of Return to Home

There are actually two main types of return to home when I think about it:

  1. GPS return to home
  2. One Key return

GPS return to home

This is what we’re mostly going to focus on, as this is the “true” technology that you can actually use in real life situations.

This means the drone HAS to have a GPS module and at least a few satelites connected.

Usually, drone GPS autopilot also has other features like waypoints and circle around, but more advanced flight modes like these are usually found in more expensive drones like DJI ones.

How does GPS RTH work?

The drone saves a point location at the place you took off from and when the return to home gets activated, it will go in a straight line towards the original point.

This usually happens at a set heigh or at the height you curently are, but we’ll see that some drones have aditional settings that change a few things.

One Key return (fake auto-return)

The one key return home feature you see on very cheap drones (the ones without GPS) is actually nothing more than the drone pressing the back button. Some drones retain the original orientation and put the drone in headless mode and try their best to get it back to you.

This can be useful sometimes, but in my opinion it’s mostly a way to trick people. You could do this yourself just by pressing the left stick towards you… and it would have the same effect, catastrophic if the drone is not facing the right direction.

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how to avoid flyaways

Low battery RTH and lost signal

There are two very important situations where the Return to home (by GPS) is very important.

 This is when the battery has low battery life, and it should return to home automatically to avoid crashing somewhere randomly. 

The more expensive drones like the ones from DJI have a way to calculate how much battery they need to return home, but most other cheap drones usually do an automatic return to home at a certain battery percentage, usually under 20%.

Lost signal is a fact of life and something you’ll almost inevitably stumble upon if you have a drone. If the drone has GPS, it will stay in place, but what if you still won’t be able to pick up signal?

For that, there usually is a function of automatic return to home when signal is lost. Quite important, wouldn’t you think?

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my top 5 return to home drones

This is the promised table where I put a short list (this could be way longer) of a few of my top recommendations to people searching for a good RTH drone.

I tried to reach a wide range of prices, for people looking for cheaper drones, so bare with me.

Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to find GPS drones usually under $100… it’s almost impossible, as the GPS module alone costs at least half of that.

Even so, I found an entry that’s very close to that and that I bet you will find interesting.

How to recognise good GPS in drones

There are 3 main indicatives of good GPS quality:

  1. There is no “toilet bowl effect
  2. The drone return to home is very precise
  3. It will hover in the same spot without much movement

The toilet bowl effect is when a drone flies in circles around it’s initial holding point and it can be very troublesome because it can hit objects if you don’t adjust the direction in time.

The return to home point must be as precise as possible, preferable around 1 or 2 meters range from the exact point it took off from. This is a good indicative the GPS is working well.

Hovering in the same spot is obviously something you want in a gps drone, especially when you want to take smoother video without much shaking or movement.

Is this top list ordered by quality?

All these quadcopters are the best for their price and you can’t really go wrong. It’s up to you to decide!

I have ordered them by how expensive they are, although that correlates with the overall quality too. But keep in mind that the cheaper ones can actually be better value for money than others. And there’s also a surprise at the end.

Product
CME GPS drone
CME GPS drone
8 min
50m
1080p
$67.94 $199.99 Buy It Now
2 Jxd 528 – cheapest GPS drone
Jxd 528 – cheapest GPS drone
8
150
720p
3 JJRC H55 tracker review – a gps drone for under $100
JJRC H55 tracker review – a gps drone for under $100
8 min
150m
720p
4 MJX Bugs 5w review – moving camera+ GPS
MJX Bugs 5w review – moving camera+ GPS
15
300
1080p
$169.99 Buy It Now
5 Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
15
3
1080p
$399.00 Buy It Now
6 DJI Mavic Air – 4k compact drone for everyone
DJI Mavic Air – 4k compact drone for everyone
21min
4km
4k
$694.00 $799.00 Buy It Now

Short reviews for each of these drones are found bellow. If you want to check out what the bonus drone is, then scroll to the end.

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Mavic Air -compact professional Drone

Battery Life

21min

Range

4km

Camera

4k

Motors

Brushless
  • 12mp camera
  • Foldable Design
  • Gps with return to home
  • Flight Modes (follow, circle, asteroid, etc)

The Mavic air is a recent release from DJI that combines the best of the Mavic Pro and DJI Spark, for quite a good price.

You can capture incredible footage with this drone at professional level, and what’s best you can put it in your pocket. It comes with a bunch of sensors and a lot of flight modes.

Of course it has GLONASS GPS and automatic return to home.

If you’re not that much on a budget and want the top performance and portability with no compromise, this is the perfect choice.

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DJI Mavic Air Video Review

This drone has it all, but before buying it you should check a more detailed review and see how it actually behaves and how good the camera is. The RTH function is absolutely perfect for the drone, so I’m not even going to comment on this.

$769.83
$799.00
in stock
17 new from $759.99
3 used from $685.00
Amazon.com
Free shipping
Last updated on January 17, 2019 3:57 am

Here are some similarly priced drones that I have rated the highest:

Product
DJI Mavic Air – 4k compact drone for everyone
DJI Mavic Air – 4k compact drone for everyone
21min
4k
4km
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2 Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
15
1080p
3
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3 Phantom 4 – Should you buy it? The ultimate DJI P4 resource
Phantom 4 – Should you buy it? The ultimate DJI P4 resource
28 min
4k
7km
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4 Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone Review – The Real DJI Phantom killer
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone Review – The Real DJI Phantom killer
23
4k
2
Add to compare
Average Score 9.5
Flight Stability
10
Signal Strength
8
Camera Quality
9
Features
9.5
PROS:
  • very compact for what it can do
  • 3 axis gimbal
  • 4k recording
  • long battery life
  • many useful flight modes
  • great GPS stability
CONS:
  • the range is limited in Europe to a maximum of 2km
$694.00 $799.00 Buy It Now
drone-number-2
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DJI Spark - Best under $500

Battery Life

15 min

Range

3

Camera

1080p

Motors

Brushless
-
  • 12mp camera
  • Fun Sport Mode
  • Gps with return to home
  • Flight Modes (follow, circle, asteroid, etc)

Another drone from DJI, and it’s just as high quality as the previous, but a lot cheaper, and with a few compromises.

This drone is actually under $400 with the basic package, so it’s quite a great deal if you get it from the DJI site.

If you’re on a tighter budget, the next best thing after the Mavic Air is the DJI Spark, as it’s still an amazing flying device capable of shooting very good quality videos and photos.

This drone has also perfect GPS stability with automatic return to home ( at a button press or when low battery).

Another similarly priced pick would have been the Xiaomi MI 4k drone, which is also amazing, but I wanted to keep the list populated with very portable drones. That’s why I picked the DJI Spark.

DJI Spark Video Review

The Spark has been reduced in price lately, and it’s still relevant as one of the best Return to home GPS and gimbal stabilized drones out there. The quality of this aircraft is stellar and you can be sure it’s worth all the money.

$399.00
in stock
18 new from $398.99
4 used from $325.00
Amazon.com
Free shipping
Last updated on January 17, 2019 3:57 am

Here are some similarly priced drones that I have rated the highest:

Product
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
3 m
15 min
1080p
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2 Xiaomi Fimi A3 review – best gimbal GPS drone for the price
Xiaomi Fimi A3 review – best gimbal GPS drone for the price
1km m
16min min
1080p
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3 Xiro Zero Xplorer Drone Review – does it compare to a Phantom?
Xiro Zero Xplorer Drone Review – does it compare to a Phantom?
600 m m
22 min min
1080p
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Average Score 9
Flight Stability
8.5
Signal Strength
8
Camera Quality
8.5
Features
9.5
PROS:
  • very compact
  • takes 4k pictures
  • a ton of useful features
  • precise GPS and return to home
  • can be flown without a transmitter or phone
CONS:
  • 2 axis gimbal may be limiting
  • can't handle strong winds that good
$399.00 Buy It Now
drone-number-3
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mjx bugs 5w - best cheap gps drone

Battery Life

15 min

Range

300

Camera

1080p

Motors

Brushless
  • Moving camera
  • Powerful motors
  • Gps with return to home
  • Follow me, circle me, waypoints

MJX is a company that has released quite a few good drones at incredible prices, one of my first favorites (up to this day) being the MJX bugs 3, which is a very cheap GoPro brushless drone.

They have evloved and released quite a few other drones, but the one I’m talking about is my favorite of them all.

Especially if you’re interested in return to home technology, the Bugs 5w has very precise GPS and you need only press a button to return to home. It also comes back at the starting point when it’s low battery or lost the signal.

When speaking about the camera, it’s something else from what I’ve seen on similarly priced drones, this time around you can actually move it up and down from the remote controller and the image quality is Full HD and quite good quality.

-

MJX Bugs 5w Video Review

This is a review made by me, so I have had a pretty good experience with it and although the expectations were low, I was quite surprised of the end result.

Last updated on January 17, 2019 3:57 am

Here are some similarly priced drones that I have rated the highest:

Product
JJPRO X5 EPIK review – best GPS drone under $150!
JJPRO X5 EPIK review – best GPS drone under $150!
1080p
15min min
300m m
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2 Bugs 3 Pro review – the best action cam drone for under $150?
Bugs 3 Pro review – the best action cam drone for under $150?
1080p
14 min
300 m
Add to compare
3 MJX Bugs 5w review – moving camera+ GPS
MJX Bugs 5w review – moving camera+ GPS
1080p
15 min
300 m
Add to compare
4 MJX Bugs 2 review – best GPS drone under $200
MJX Bugs 2 review – best GPS drone under $200
1080p
15min min
1km m
Add to compare
Average Score 8
Flight Stability
8
Signal Strength
7
Camera Quality
7
Features
7
PROS:
  • can move the camera while in the air (rare for this price)
  • Stable GPS
  • Aditional functions like RTH, circle and follow
  • brushless motors
  • solid battery life
CONS:
  • Live streaming range is a little bit limiting
  • Camera is not stabilized
$169.99 Buy It Now
drone-number-4
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JJRC h55 -GPS drone under $100

Battery Life

8 min

Range

150m

Camera

720p

Motors

Brushed
  • Fixed Camera
  • Multiple batteries
  • Gps with return to home
  • Has transmitter
  • Follow me, circle around functions

I got the JJRC h55 for testing a few months ago and I was surprised to find out a drone that costs about $100 also comes with GPS and return to home.

The camera is not half bad and the package also comes with 2 or 3 batteries, so you’ll have a lot flight time for this drone.

Btw, you can charge all the 3 batteries at the same time.

The camera is not so bad either, even though it’s 720p.

 

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JJRC H55 Video Review

Another review made by me (suggest to follow the youtube channel at this point). I tested it to see how well it returns to home and how precise it is. Spoiler alert: it’s very precise.

The return to home range was not bigger than 1m. However, it is a bit annoying to calibrate the GPS before every flight and there’s also not many fancy functions to brag about, that is if you care.

Last updated on January 17, 2019 3:57 am

Here are some similarly priced drones that I have rated the highest:

Product
Eachine E010 review – the best beginner drone
Eachine E010 review – the best beginner drone
50m
5min
~
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2 MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
300m
15min
1080p
Add to compare
3 Bugs 3 Mini – Cheap and fast brushless drone
Bugs 3 Mini – Cheap and fast brushless drone
300m
8min
720p
Add to compare
4 Ryze DJI Tello Review
Ryze DJI Tello Review
50m
12 min
720p
Add to compare
Average Score 7.5
Flight Stability
7.5
Signal Strength
7.5
Camera Quality
7
Features
7
PROS:
  • comes with up to 3 batteries
  • quite stable GPS
  • footage saves both on phone and SD card
  • has telemetry ( shows height, distance and battery life)
CONS:
  • you need to calibrate it before every flight
  • only works with phones that have 5g 802.11ac wifi
drone-number-5
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JXD 528 - cheapest rth drone

Battery Life

8 min

Range

150

Camera

720p

Motors

Brushed
  • Fixed Camera
  • Phone controlled
  • Gps with return to home
  • Flight Modes (follow, circle, waypoints, etc)

Yes, this drone is incredibly cheap for what it can do. 

What’s the difference between it and the JJRC H55? Well, pretty much just the fact that this one doesn’t have a transmitter and is just controlled by phone!

To have a perspective about how cheap this drone is, a standard GPS module can cost $30-$60 at least, so you’re wondering already how they had the budget to make the other parts of the drone too.

But this drone is not only that, it can also follow you and fly to preset waypoint locations and do a circle around flight.

These features are combined with a decent camera (it’s not that great, but it works for having some fun with it).

 

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JXD 528 Video Review

This is a review made by the all-popular Quadcopter101 channel, and he is definitely surprised by how cheap this GPS drone can be, considering all the flight modes it has and the fact that they work properly.

Last updated on January 17, 2019 3:57 am

Here are some similarly priced drones that I have rated the highest:

Product
Eachine E010 review – the best beginner drone
Eachine E010 review – the best beginner drone
50m
5min
~
Add to compare
2 MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
300m
15min
1080p
Add to compare
3 Bugs 3 Mini – Cheap and fast brushless drone
Bugs 3 Mini – Cheap and fast brushless drone
300m
8min
720p
Add to compare
4 Ryze DJI Tello Review
Ryze DJI Tello Review
50m
12 min
720p
Add to compare
Average Score 7.5
Flight Stability
7.5
Signal Strength
7.5
Camera Quality
7
Features
7
Features
7.5
PROS:
  • super cheap
  • has follow me
  • adjustable circle me
  • waypoints flight
  • micro SD card
CONS:
  • battery life
  • no transmitter
drone-number-6
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CME folding drone - bonus

Battery Life

8 min min

Range

50m

Camera

1080p

Motors

Brushed
  • 1080p camera
  • Foldable Design
  • Has camera settings
  • good build quality
  • return to home

And here is my bonus quadcopter. It’s on the very low priced range of GPS drone, pretty much as cheap as the previous one, but this is a much slimmer quadcopter. 

It’s actually the smallest drone on this list and it’s also foldable.

The camera is 1080p full HD and it does a very good job recording, I’d say it’s on par with the DJI Tello, but this drone has GPS and Return to Home belive it or not.

The app of this drone is quite unique, as it comes with in depth settings for the camera, like white balance, exposure and more. This means it has the potential of becoming quite a great photo drone, if you put the time to learn some photography.

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CME Video Review

The CME drone has been released a few months ago and has become very popular because of its high quality camera, GPS and low price. More on top of that, it’s also very small and foldable. It’s not perfect, of course, but I’m not going to complain a lot for the price.

Last updated on January 17, 2019 3:57 am

Here are some similarly priced drones that I have rated the highest:

Product
Eachine E010 review – the best beginner drone
Eachine E010 review – the best beginner drone
50m
5min
~
Add to compare
2 MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
300m
15min
1080p
Add to compare
3 Bugs 3 Mini – Cheap and fast brushless drone
Bugs 3 Mini – Cheap and fast brushless drone
300m
8min
720p
Add to compare
4 Ryze DJI Tello Review
Ryze DJI Tello Review
50m
12 min
720p
Add to compare
Average Score 7.5
Flight Stability
6.5
Camera Quality
7.5
Features
7
PROS:
  • good quality camera
  • very portable design
  • micro SD card
  • you can adjust camera settings like exposure and contrast
  • follow me function
CONS:
  • built in battery
  • small range
$67.94 $199.99 Buy It Now
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