Comparing How Fast Drones Fly

Drones are now becoming more common all over the world, with even children’s versions becoming easily available. However, they’re still quite an expensive investment, so people conduct extensive research before buying a drone. Since this is a tech device, it makes sense to ask about the specifications of a drone before making a purchase.

One of the most important specs for many potential drone owners, of course, is the speed of the drone they’re considering. The speed limit for drones in most areas is 100 mph or below, but drone enthusiasts would like to know if their device can even make it up to that point. 

When you’re buying a drone, it’s always recommended that you look into how fast that particular model can fly. This is because the speed of a drone majorly depends on what kind it is. Consumer drones might be the slowest of them all, ranging from 40 to a maximum of 60 mph. Some high-end versions might be able to go up to 70 mph, while the ones for complete beginners or kids may only go up to 20 mph. 

Two drones flying over a cotton field

There are also racing drones, trick drones, and military drones to consider. Some people may be able to customize their drones and change some components or software settings in order to get a faster speed. The absolute top speed of any drone will also be determined by its materials and design. There are heavy materials, light materials, and some designs that could simply be light and more streamlined to allow for more speed. 

However, the type of drone is still one of the most essential influences on drone speed. Let’s now have look at the most popular and common categories of drones and the speeds we may expect from them: 

Beginner Drones

Beginner Drones

Since these drones are especially made for novices and beginners, they’re quite easy to navigate. Some may only hit 20 mph, though others could have a top speed of a mere 12 mph. This might be fast enough for someone who just wants to learn how to fly a drone and perhaps use it for photography purposes. 

Such drones may also be the safest option for flying in public areas such as the beach or a park. At these low speeds, the drone is unlikely to disturb other people while still being a fun pastime for the whole family. 

Trick Drones

Trick Drones

These are usually the most common drone types you can find anywhere. They’re a step above beginner drones, but not quite in the racing category yet. Their design is built to allow several kinds of activities such as photography, amateur racing, light shows, and many more. Here are some unusual uses of drones that you can probably accomplish with a trick drone. 

Since these drones can reach a speed of 50 to 70 mph, the flier has to be a bit experienced and skilled while operating them. If you plan to go at the top speed, make sure there are no obstacles in the way and that the area’s regulations allow such speed. 

Racing Drones

Racing Drones

Once you get a bit of experience and are ready for a challenge, fast racing drones might be in order. A racing drone is built for rapid speeds in each aspect; size, weight, material, etc. 

Without any manual customization, racing drones have enough power to go from 60 to 120 mph. However, many flying drone enthusiasts buy these drones and also modify them on their own. They might also pay someone to make certain changes so that the drone flies at more than 120 mph. 

At present the team of engineers under the DRL (Drone Racing League) has customized a drone that has broken all precious records for racing drone speeds. These speeds are beyond the parameters of the league, so we probably won’t see such drones in their regular races. The fastest speed for this drone is 163.5 mph when it was tested on 100-meter courses. When tested over longer distances, the velocity reached around 179.6 mph. 

Fixed Wing Drones

Fixed Wing Drones

Fixed wing drones look somewhat like airplanes or jets. Instead of the helicopter-like propellers on the device, there are stationary wings that help the drone to glide through the air. There are front propellers, which enable the drone to rise up and stay airborne. Some models of fixed wing drones, such as the Parrot Disco, can go up to 50 mph. 

Military Drones

Military Drones

The drones we have talked about so far are consumer drones that a regular person can get at the right shop. Military drones, on the other hand, are in another category altogether. You may not be able to get your hand on one even if you can afford its high price! Many of these might be classified models, but we do know that they are among the fastest and most hardy versions in the world. Their speed can even go up to 4,598 mph, which is currently the Guinness world record. One of the factors that contribute to such high speeds is the fixed-wing design. This means that the drone can glide along like an airplane instead of being propelled all the way. 

Other Factors that Determine a Drone’s Speed

Other Factors that Determine a Drone’s Speed

We’ve already discussed the different categories of drones, but what about within these categories? What makes one kind of consumer drone faster or slower than other modes? The factors below will hopefully answer these questions to some extent:

1. The weight of the drone

Every object on earth is affected by gravity. Flying objects like drones are also subjected to this force, so the heavier they are the harder it will be for them to fly fast. 

Most drones in the market today are multirotor, which means that they stay airborne through the use of many propellers. These propellers usually have small diameters and are meant to help the drone move while keeping it lifted. 

The aim of these propellers is to generate enough force to weigh out the drone itself. When you factor in gravity and the weight of the drone body, the speed naturally gets affected. With heavier drones, you simply won’t get the same speed as that of light drones of the same size and with the same number of propellers. 

Of course, speed isn’t always everything. When a drone has to deliver heavy packages, for instance, we mostly want its body to be sturdy and robust enough to carry that weight. This is why delivery drones could be the heaviest one around, but their speed isn’t meant to be too fast. 

The weight factor is also why people who use racing drones take off any excessive equipment. If you use a drone for mostly racing, then it doesn’t really need flight sensors or hi-res cameras. Taking away these items will lead to a lighter, more streamlined drone body that can move faster as well. While taking away these accessories is a sacrifice, the drones do become easier to maneuver and can achieve some amazing speeds that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

2. Propellers

The rotary motion of a drone’s propellers turns into the linear thrust that the device needs to fly. In multirotor drones, the propellers are in pairs that spin in opposite directions in order to maintain a balance. 

When we vary the rotation rate, we can manipulate the drone into hovering, ascending, or descending. When we vary the rotation rate of opposite rotors, the drone will roll, pitch, or yaw due to the imbalance created. When propellers have a higher pitch, they tend to generate a better lift than completely flat ones. Moreover, if the propeller blades are made of the material carbon instead of plastic, they will be lighter. As a result, the drone will also be faster.

3. Safety Regulations

With many people flying drones out in the open, there are now regulations in most public areas that limit how fast drones can fly. This means that even if you take your customized racing drone into a public park, it won’t be allowed to go beyond the range of a regular trick drone or even a beginner drone. When racing drones are participating in a proper race, however, these same laws may not apply as long as everything is in order. 

Conclusion

Drones are fascinating and versatile devices. With more and more people owning them, there’s bound to be a lot of comparisons and competition in the market. Knowing the different speeds of various drone types can help us get just the right models for our needs. If you’re interested in other roles that drones can play, check out how drones are used in the education sector