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

MJX Bugs 3 - My favorite quad under $100

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
50
1080p
$49.50 $199.99 Buy It Now
Jxd 528 – cheapest GPS drone
Jxd 528 – cheapest GPS drone
8
150
720p
JJRC H55 tracker review – a gps drone for under $100
JJRC H55 tracker review – a gps drone for under $100
8
150
720p
MJX Bugs 5w review – moving camera+ GPS
MJX Bugs 5w review – moving camera+ GPS
15
300
1080p
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
15
3000
1080p
$480.00 $549.00 Buy It Now
DJI Mavic Air – 4k compact drone for everyone
DJI Mavic Air – 4k compact drone for everyone
21
4000
4k
$739.00 $919.00 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

21

Range

4000

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.

$798.89
$799.00
out of stock
8 new from $798.89
1 used from $829.00
Amazon.com
Free shipping
Last updated on September 16, 2019 8:31 pm

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

ProductRangeCamera
DJI Mavic Air – 4k compact drone for everyone
DJI Mavic Air – 4k compact drone for everyone
21 min
4000 m
4k
Add to compare
2 Parrot Anafi Drone review
Parrot Anafi Drone review
25 min
4000 m
4k
Add to compare
3 Dji Mavic Pro 1 – Still a good drone in 2019?
Dji Mavic Pro 1 – Still a good drone in 2019?
23 min
7000 m
4k
Add to compare
Average Score 9.5
Flight stability
9.5
Camera quality
9
Aditional features
8
PROS:
  • 3 axis image stabilization
  • good range
  • foldable design
  • many flight modes
  • very fast
  • great GPS stability
$739.00 $919.00 Buy It Now
drone-number-2
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DJI Spark - Best under $500

Battery Life

15 min

Range

3000

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.

$487.99
$549.00
in stock
9 new from $479.00
Amazon.com
Free shipping
Last updated on September 16, 2019 8:31 pm

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

ProductBatteryCamera
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
3000 m
15 min
1080p
Add to compare
2 Parrot Anafi Drone review
Parrot Anafi Drone review
4000 m
25 min
4k
Add to compare
3 Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE drone review
Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE drone review
5000 m
30 min
4k
Add to compare
Average Score 9.5
Camera quality
9
Stability
9.5
Camera Quality
9.5
PROS:
  • great range
  • good battery life
  • small
  • very stable camera
  • many proximity sensors
  • a ton of flight modes
  • great transmitter
  • many online accessories
CONS:
  • maybe if it were foldable
$480.00 $549.00 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.

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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 September 16, 2019 8:31 pm

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
300 m
15 min
Add to compare
2 Hubsan X4 H501s standard and advanced versions
Hubsan X4 H501s standard and advanced versions
1080p
500 m
19 min
Add to compare
3 JJRC C-Fly X7 review
JJRC C-Fly X7 review
1080p
350 m
15 min
Add to compare
Average Score 9.5
Features
8.5
Durability
7.5
Flight time
8.5
Camera
7
PROS:
  • GPS function
  • button return to home and failsafe return ( if battery low or connection lost)
  • long range (over 1km with no interference)
  • real time telemetry data ( altitude, distance, battery and signal)
  • Live feed option with phone or micro SD card storage
  • headless mode for beginners
  • good wind stability
CONS:
  • No functions like "follow me" or "circle around object"
  • sometimes does a strange "toilet bowl movement"
  • Camera can't move
drone-number-4
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JJRC h55 -GPS drone under $100

Battery Life

8

Range

150

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 September 16, 2019 8:31 pm

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

ProductRangeBatteryCamera
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
300 m
15 min
1080p
Add to compare
2 SG900 drone review – 20min battery life ( has a GPS version too)
SG900 drone review – 20min battery life ( has a GPS version too)
100 m
20 min
720p
Add to compare
3 JJRC H78G/KK10S drone review – Long flight time GPS under $100
JJRC H78G/KK10S drone review – Long flight time GPS under $100
300 m
15 min
1080p
Add to compare
Average Score 8.5
Video Quality
9
Flight stability
8.5
Photo Quality
9.5
PROS:
  • stable GPS
  • return to home by button press
  • good quality material
  • good camera for the price
CONS:
  • the setup process can be annoying sometimes
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).

 

Price history for C-me Cme Social Media Flying Camera: Folding Mini Pocket Selfie Drone with WiFi, GPS, 8MP Digital Camera, and Full HD 1080p Video, Black
Latest updates:
  • $43.92 - September 8, 2019
  • $43.95 - September 1, 2019
  • $43.99 - August 20, 2019
  • $39.00 - May 5, 2019
  • $41.00 - May 4, 2019
  • $39.00 - May 3, 2019
  • $40.00 - April 30, 2019
  • $39.00 - April 26, 2019
Since: March 18, 2019
  • Highest Price: $53.00 - March 18, 2019
  • Lowest Price: $39.00 - April 26, 2019

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 September 16, 2019 8:31 pm

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

ProductRangeBatteryCamera
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
300 m
15 min
1080p
Add to compare
2 SG900 drone review – 20min battery life ( has a GPS version too)
SG900 drone review – 20min battery life ( has a GPS version too)
100 m
20 min
720p
Add to compare
3 JJRC H78G/KK10S drone review – Long flight time GPS under $100
JJRC H78G/KK10S drone review – Long flight time GPS under $100
300 m
15 min
1080p
Add to compare
Average Score 8
Video Quality
9
Flight stability
8.5
Photo Quality
9.5
PROS:
  • has GPS
  • pretty good camera
  • durable design
CONS:
  • no controller.
drone-number-6
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CME folding drone - bonus

Battery Life

8 min

Range

50

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.

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

ProductRangeBatteryCamera
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
MJX Bugs 3 review – Best Cheap Brushless GoPro Drone( In-Depth review)
300 m
15 min
1080p
Add to compare
2 SG900 drone review – 20min battery life ( has a GPS version too)
SG900 drone review – 20min battery life ( has a GPS version too)
100 m
20 min
720p
Add to compare
3 JJRC H78G/KK10S drone review – Long flight time GPS under $100
JJRC H78G/KK10S drone review – Long flight time GPS under $100
300 m
15 min
1080p
Add to compare
Average Score 8
Video Quality
8.5
Flight stability
8.5
Photo Quality
9.5
PROS:
  • cheap gps drone
  • good camera
  • foldable design
  • flight modes
CONS:
  • range is limited
$49.50 $199.99 Buy It Now
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