BEST DRONE SIMULATORS
Drone simulators are a great way to test out your drone piloting skills without putting your expensive toy at risk. Here we list the top 5 drone simulators and explain how they work.
If you are looking at getting your hands on one of the best drone simulators then the likelihood is you either own or are considering buying a real life drone. There are a number or reasons why you might want to use a drone simulator and these are usually to develop your flying skills or to develop your camera skills.
If you are looking to develop your flying skills or just simply want to test yourself in a more challenging environment then you may be interested in trying a drone racing simulator. Whatever your reason is for wanting a simulated drone experience, we are sure that one of these packages will suit.
DRL Racing Drone Simulator
Drone racing is taking off in a big way and with professional contracts for drone racers as well as UK Sports TV coverage it is no surprise that becoming a drone racer is now a big ambition for many amateur drone pilots. You can get your hands on a decent racing drone for a few hundred pounds but having the opportunity to race on professional circuits is not easy. The official Drone Racing League drone simulator takes the expense and risk out of the equation and offers so much more besides.
The first thing to point out is that the DRL simulator is available at relatively little cost and can be downloaded from Steam for Mac OS and PC. The 2017 version was free but the new and updated version is a paid for program – that being said, the developments that have been made are well worth it as you can race on the actual real life drone tracks and you can fly the fastest drones in the world.
If that wasn’t enough, you can even try out for the trials of the real 2019 DRL with a chance to win one of two $75,000 pro contracts and enter in to the actual 2019 Drone Racing League.
You will need a controller to use the drone simulator as well as ensuring your system meets the tech specs required. You will also need an internet connection to compete in the trials.
If you have ever wanted to test out your drone racing skills without going all out and buying the gear or you simply don’t have the space – or if you have wanted to try out for the real DRL – then this is the best simulator for drone racing bar none!
DroneSim Pro is very different from the DRL app as it is perhaps seen more as a professional simulation that puts you and the drone in more real world contexts. Available for Windows and Mac OS, the retail price is $29.99 so while it is not as cheap as some of the simulators listed here it is also by no means the most expensive on the market.
DroneSim Pro allows you to to practice your flying skills in range of different scenarios including open fields, obstacle courses as well as putting you in to difficult situations such as house fires. When you buy DroneSim Pro you will also get access to future updates and with new scenarios promised it could provide good value for money.
One of the unique selling points of this sim is that it can be tailored to the exact requirements of the user. As drones are used for more and more situations such as reconnaissance or mountain rescue, there is a growing need to be able to train pilots for these testing situations. This is where the DroneSim Pro really comes in to its own as it also features a realistic flight engine with weather conditions also playing a crucial part in how the drone is controlled.
With new drones being added to the lineup and new controllers promised, this is an excellent choice for those looking for realistic real world simulation.
Heli-X Flight Simulator
The Heli-X Flight Simulator is a free drone simulator that packs a pretty decent punch. Although it has been primarily designed for helicopter simulation there is also the option to fly a DJI Phantom drone – though this is a bit outdated now it still provides a good opportunity to test out your skills in a very realistic environment.
There are now three versions of the Heli-X simulator – all of which have PC and Apple carnations of the software. The oldest version is completely free but even version 4.2 and version 7 (the latest version) have free demos and you can then upgrade in the programme itself.
The experience is pretty realistic and there quite a few customisable settings to test yourself. There are not as many scenarios as some of the other simulators but if you want to test out your photography and flying skills then this is a pretty decent option.
Liftoff – Drone Racing Game
Liftoff is more of a drone based game than a drone simulator but it still warrants inclusion in this roundup for a number of reasons. Available for download from Steam for OSX, Windows and Linux, this is one of the prettiest drone games on the market. Still in its infancy, you get the feeling that there is a long way to go for this game and it already offers so much.
You will need a controller to play but with the added benefit of being compatible with VR goggles it really opens up the world of drone racing to a wider audience. It may not play quite as realistically as the DRL simulator but it offers pure unadulterated adrenaline pumping fun!