What is the difference between a racing drone and a regular photography drone? While they are both usually quadcopters, there’s several significant differences between two types of machines designed for different purposes.
The short answer is racing drones are like jet fighters: they’re fast movers, very maneuverable, but they take an experienced pilot to operate to their potential and don’t have a lot of comfort features.
Flying at up to 150 km/h and capable of such incredible maneuverability, here are three ways racing drones differ from the familiar quadcopter:
This one is pretty obvious, since speed and agility are fundamental factors when competing, a racing quadcopter is smaller in size when compared to a non-racing drone. The smaller frame provides racers with the ability to maneuver their drones through small spaces and around obstacles midair. Non-racing drones such as the ones used by photographers tend to be bulkier.
Racing drones are made to be as light as possible and usually made of carbon fiber since it’s durable and extremely lightweight at the same time; non-racing drones, on the other hand, are made with a variety of materials. Choice of battery and motors are also made with weight in mind.
Typically, drones used for aerial photography and videography are equipped with cameras that capture high-quality images and videos that the flyer can view after the flight has concluded.
With racing drones, racing pilot sees the world very differently, the view is practically a VR experience. An antenna on the camera sends live pictures back to the pilot’s FPV googles giving the racer the illusion of flying the drone from a cockpit, allowing them to make split-second decisions during races.
Racing drones are built with one purpose in mind: to race, so it isn’t surprising that they don’t come with the same number of features. For instance, they don’t have the same ability as non-racing drones to hover in one area for extended periods of time.
On a racing drone, all four motors are separately controlled. Having every motor individually set up on your controller means maximum agility, with much easier control of pitch, roll, yaw and incline. Each motor is controlled on a separate channel by the controller sticks. Again, drones designed for more general applications have a lot more automatic controls including collision detection and automatic flying.
Finally, for racing, the thrust-to-weight ratio is an important factor too as some of these can go from 0 to 150km/h in under a second – this is one reason why you want to be an experienced drone pilot. One rule of thumb is that an optimal thrust-to-weight ratio for a racing drone is about 2:1, meaning that the four motors together can provide twice thrust to the drone’s weight (as a comparison, most modern jet fighters have a ratio around 1.2)
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