Drones are surprisingly fast. One of the latest drones to come out of DJI’s research is the Mavic air 2 – it has a maximum speed of 19 m/s which is approximately 42.5 mph. That is incredibly fast and it means that they can follow cars and other fast-moving objects easily. Sometimes, however, we want to fly our drones faster than we have flown before. Here are all of the ways that you can make your drone flight faster whether you have built it yourself or not.
How can I make my drone fly faster? You can make your drone flow faster by working with environmental conditions such as flying with a tailwind, using sports mode or other expert mode and you can also reduce the weight of your drone and make sure you are using a healthy battery to improve your flying speeds.
Each drone has a top speed and it is very hard to get them to surpass that speed as they have been designed specifically for certain tasks and have limitations due to motor size and power output. Sometimes, there is no option other than upgrading your drone to a more powerful one.
Before you consider parting with more money – try these simple steps to make your dragonfly faster.
Fly with a tailwind
While your drone is flying it is constantly trying to maintain its location or direction of flight. If your drone is working against the wind (with a headwind) a lot of the energy which is put out through the motors is used to counteract the wind blowing in the opposite direction.
If you want to fly faster you can simply try to fly with a tailwind (the wind blowing the same direction as the drone movement) this will give your drone and extra little boost which will allow it to surpass its maximum flight speed.
I understand that this isn’t always possible due to environmental conditions and the takeoff or landing spots relative to the area of interest. However, making sure that you are flying into the headwind on your outbound journey and then with a tailwind on the inbound journey will ensure that you actually make it back to your landing spot with plenty of battery to spare.
Use sports mode
Using sports mode or other expert modes on your drone will remove the top speed limitations and make the drone much more agile and accelerate faster upon movement of the joysticks.
My DJI Mavic air has a sports mode switch on the front of the remote control which makes it instantly more responsive and also turns off the obstacle detection sensors so that I can fly faster and closer to objects.
The YouTube video below gives you the opportunity to see the difference between normal mode and sports mode.
You’ll notice that deceleration is much faster and the top speed also is much higher than when the drone is not in sports mode.
Other companies will call sports mode other things and you may have to access the mode via a hardware switch or via a software button in the app.
Reduce the weight of your drone
Another easy way to increase the top speed of your drone is to reduce the weight of your drone. If you are building your own racing drone there are loads of components that you can swap out for lighter versions all you can remove completely.
For example, if you are only racing for fun you probably do not need a high definition camera which can weigh a lot. Alternatively you can use a lower resolution analogue camera if you only want your heads up display.
If you have not built your own drone and you’ve bought it commercially there isn’t too much you can do to reduce the weight of your drone. Some more expensive consumer level drones have removable cameras and you can swap out the camera for a lighter version. The lighter version almost certainly is not good quality but if you want to balance the speed of your drone with the quality of footage that you get you may want to swap out for a lighter camera. For example the DJI inspire series drones have a range of different cameras that you can use.
Also, if you have any accessories attached to your drone this will also increase the weight and reduce the top speed of your drone. For example you could be using a bait dropping third-party accessory all you could be using a GPS tracker. The additional weight of the accessories will reduce top speed of your drone.
Some drone pilots like to use details on their drone which, very slightly, add additional weight to the drone. Make sure that you remove any details or vinyl stickers from your drone if you want to reduce the weight.
Turn off lights and accessories
This may not increase the top speed very much but it will certainly help you retain battery charger so that you can fly further.
Turning off lights in the app is very simple and you can simply access them through the general settings of most apps. Manufacturers offer you the ability to turn off the lights so that you do not get any LED interference in your photos.
If you have any third-party accessories such as fishing bait drops or other accessories be sure that they are turned off and removed completely from your drone to increase its top speed.
Use a healthy battery
Your drone can only fly as fast as it can access the charge from the battery.
Making sure that your battery is healthy will also help keep your top speed as high as possible. If you want to know more about how to check your DJI battery health check out my other article – click here to be taken to the full range of options for checking your batteries health.
Keep your battery healthy by doing these things:
- don’t charge until you are going to fly – only charge of your batteries when you’re about to fly because the batteries will automatically discharge to abate a fully percent capacity if you do not use then right away.
- Never let the battery discharge to 0% – batteries are made up of cells and each one is rated at 3.7 V if you let the battery voltage drop below this you will permanently harm the battery.
- Store at room temperature – The lithium polymer internal components of drone batteries are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. It’s always very tempting to leave your drone and the accessories in the car but if it is a particularly hot day this can damage the health of the batteries.
- Store at 50% charge – Never leave your drone battery is fully charged if storing for long periods of time – for example a month or more. Batteries which I charged up to 100% are much more unstable than when they are stored at 50%
- Don’t charge in hot or cold – Keeping with the theme of temperature, you should also not charge up your drone if it is particularly hot or cold. For example, your drone battery will be relatively warm after the completion of a flight and so you should wait for it to completely cool down before charging.
- Buy a drone battery protector – drone battery protectors come in a variety of different shapes and sizes for different uses. Drone battery protectors will keep your battery served by you are flying and secure during transport and charging. They come in a wide variety different forms such as silicon covers, 3D printed fasteners, and explosionproof bags.
Keeping with these simple tips will be beneficial to maintaining the health of your battery and also the speed at which the charge can get to the motors!
Upgrade the motors – drone FPV
If you have built the drone yourself, you can easily upgrade the motors of your first person view drone.
Upgrading the motors of your drone is relatively simple and you should consider the weight of the drone, the thrust to weight ratio, the efficiency, talk, and motor poll count before replacing your drone.
The thrust to weight ratio is one of the best ways to determine whether or not upgrading your drone motors is worth it. Increasing the amount of thrust that each motor can generate will keep your drone more stable but also allow it to fly quicker through the air.
It’s a simple game of maths where you balance the total weight of your drone with the number of motors that can generate at least twice amount of thrust. This will double your speed and make your drone much faster.
There are plenty of options for upgrading your drone motors and they can be found for as little as US$14.99. If you want high-performance brushless motors for racing drones you can expect to pay upwards of $100 to power up your drone – click here to be taken to the full variety of motors available on Amazon. There are motors at price points for everyone.
Upgrade your drone
If you do not have the luxury of being able to replace the motors of your drone because you have purchased your drone from a manufacturer such as DJI the only option you have is to upgrade your drone to one with a higher top speed.
Here are some of the most popular drones and their top speeds:
|DJI Mavic air 2||19 m/s in sports mode|
|DJI mini 2||16 m/s in sports mode|
|DJI Mavic air||19 m/s in sports mode|
|DJI Phantom||20 m/s|
|DJI Mavic pro||18 m/s|
|DJI inspire 2||26 m/s in sports mode|
As you can see the top speed of the DJI drones is approximately 18 to 20 m/s which is 65 to 72 km/h. Which is about as fast as a car on an arterial road in a major city.
Here are some frequently asked questions about how fast drones can fly.
Frequently asked speed questions
There are many different speeds of drones and not all drones are made the same. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers from the most up-to-date sources of information and state of the art drones.
How fast can the average drone fly?
By average drone I’m going to assume that you mean consumer level drones. As we have seen above, the average top speed of a drone from the DJI consumer level is between 18 to 20 m/s which is approximately 65 to 72 km/h.
This means that a drone is able to keep up with a car as it dries through a city and can easily outrun a person at top speed. You can also use a drone to track someone as they are riding the bicycle through a park with no problems.
How fast can a drone follow you?
Many drones have follow mode. This is where the drone actively tracks the person selected in the and tries to stay with them no matter where they go. One of the best companies in the world at the moment for tracking drones is the Skydio drone which uses artificial intelligence and 360° sensors to avoid collisions with obstacles.
A drone can follow you whether you are walking, running, using a bike, and riding a car or motorcycle at speeds lower than 70 km/h. As drone technology gets more efficient and cheaper I expect that these limitations will be increased and drones will be able to follow you at speeds much greater than 70 km/h.
If you want a drone to follow you at more than 70 km/h you can look at enterprise level drones such as the DJI inspire 2 drone which can go faster than 90 km/h which is more than 26 m/s. This drone is made specifically for capturing high-quality footage for TV and film.
Making your drone fly faster can involve a number of approaches including reducing the weight of the drone, upgrading the motors, upgrading the drone, and making sure that you are using a healthy battery.
Sometimes when you are flying a drone just want to go a little bit faster and using the tailwind to your advantage is a way to temporarily boost the speed of your drone during your flight.
Happy drone flying!