Virtual reality is a white-hot buzzword right now, with immersive head-mounted displays that can take you to a whole other world.
The rise of VR has also had an effect on the world of drones.
Specifically the art of FPV or “first-person view” flying.
We’ve had simple video goggles for years now, but modern FPV gear is beginning to share significant aspects of VR headset technology.
Also, don’t forget that cameras that capture VR content, 360-degree videos, are becoming commonplace.
Even if you aren’t using that sort of camera equipment, gimbals are now also pretty much standard on camera drones and it’s really only in the drone racing world where FPV with fixed cameras is the main style.
Let’s look at the top VR drones for next-generation VR-inspired FPV and the hardware that drives them.
In a hurry? We put together this list of the 5 top VR drones of 2023:
|VR Drone Model||Price||Our Score||Camera||Range||Flight Time|
|DJI FPV Combo with DJI FPV Goggles V2|
Best VR Drone 2023
|4K HD Video Super-Wide Angle. 1/2.3” CMOS. Low-Latency Transmission.||6.2 miles||20 min|
Most Immersive VR Drone
For use with DJI Goggles 2. Also works with DJI FPV Goggles V2. Super wide FOV.
|11.6 km||18 min|
|DJI Tello Combo with Goggles and Remote Controller|
Best Starter VR Drone
|720p HD||330 feet||13 min|
|DJI Mavic 2 Pro|
Best Pro VR Drone
|20 MP 1″ CMOS Sensor.|
For use with DJI Goggles Racing Edition.
|Up to 8 km||31 min|
|DJI Mini 3 Pro|
Best Value VR Drone
|48 MP Photo 4K/60 fps Video||Up to 8 km||34 min (possible to upgrade to 47 minutes)|
Camera: 4K 60-FPS Video
Flight Time: Around 20-minutes flight time
VR Headset: DJI FPV Goggles V2
Range: 6.2 miles flight range
DJI FPV Combo: Best VR Drone All-Around.
I recently got my hands on the DJI FPV Combo, and it’s an experience that’s almost as exhilarating as jumping out of a plane. Almost.
The Unboxing Saga: “It’s Like Christmas, But Better!”
Listen, the unboxing alone was a theatrical experience. The packaging—clean, professional, minimalist—it’s like DJI is whispering, “You’re about to enter the big leagues, buddy.” And inside the box, every component has its own cozy little slot—like first-class seats on a spaceship.
How Does It Feel?
It’s a thing of beauty. The VR drone itself feels sturdy and solid in the hands. It’s like holding a high-tech artifact from a sci-fi movie. No flimsy plastic nonsense; this baby is built to last.
The propellers feel durable, and they click into place with a satisfying snap. Everything is designed to be user-friendly, right down to the battery latch, which is so straightforward that you’d have to try pretty hard to mess it up.
The FPV goggles? Futuristic and comfy, like you’re in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon or something.
“It Handles Like a Dream!”
When you’re airborne, the DJI FPV VR drone is nimble, responsive, and as easy to control as swiping left on a bad dating profile. The controls are intuitive enough for beginners yet precise enough for a more experience user like me to pull off some jaw-dropping aerial acrobatics.
Three Modes, Because One Size Doesn’t Fit All!
- Beginner Mode: Think of it as drone flying with training wheels.
- Normal Mode: The ideal balance of control and speed.
- Manual Mode: The sky’s the limit, literally!
The battery life? It’s around 20 minutes, which is good but not ‘write-home-to-mom’ fantastic. You’ll need to invest in extra batteries if you’re planning a longer flight.
And yes, your wallet will feel this purchase. It’s not for the faint of heart or light of pocket. But remember, you’re getting a top-notch VR drone.
The best VR drone 2023 is the DJI FPV Combo, known for its immersive flight and robust features. It tops the list for both beginners and pros.
The Best Headset for DJI Owners: The DJI Goggles
Actually, before we get to the VR drones themselves I’d like to highlight the DJI drone VR goggles for two reasons.
For one thing, they’re compatible with the Mavic Pro and both the Phantom and Inspire product series. Depending on the specific drone these google support head tracking, full 360-degree video and both 720p/60fps and 1080p/30fps streaming depending on the range.
The latency is also incredibly good given how far the video signals have to be transmitted in the round-trip. DJI says the latency is a blistering 110 ms.
The design of the DJI Goggles have also clearly taken inspiration from current VR devices such as the Oculus Rift and Sony Playstation VR. In particular the DJI goggles have a flip-up feature taken straight from the PlayStation VR, which let’s you quickly get a bearing of your surroundings.
The DJI Goggles VR headset also support a number of 3rd-party transmission sources, but I suggest making sure it works with the gear you want to use before committing to it.
When I tested these I found that I really like that the battery lasts for 6 hours, which is a very long time. Your phone will not last very long using the DJI app. Now I did not have to use my phone and could fly for longer with these.
DJI Mavic Mini SE VR Drone
I get many questions about if the Mavic Mini works with VR. From the research I have done, I have not found any working goggles for it. The best option might be to use single-lens box goggles and put the phone into them, you can see an example here of single-lens goggles.
I own and use the Mini SE often, I love how light it feels. It is also a bit cheaper than the predecessor DJI Mini, and of course the newer version the DJI Mini 3 Pro.
DJI Tello Beginner VR Drone
Flight Time: 13-minute flight time
Range: 100m flight distance
Camera: 5 MP photos
What We Like
- Stabilising technology for clear photos
- Intel 14-Core processor creates clear footage
- Includes propeller protectors for added safety
The DJI Ryze Tello drone is a lightweight drone VR drone that weighs only 80 grams in total and is very fun to flyence.
The DJI Tello comes with automatic take-off and landing technology that allows you to lift off and land with just the press of a button. This takes away the nervousness from having to learn how to properly land your drone without damaging it for those who are not used to flying drones.
This also makes it easy to get into the air quickly as well.
There is also an added feature that lets the drone land in the event that you lose connection. This will keep your VR drone from dropping out of the sky if you fly it too far away.
The camera that comes with this drone takes 5 MP photos that are crystal clear even when the drone is moving at high speeds.
The Tello VR drone is a cheap, fun and safe option for those who have never flown a drone before and it comes with multiple safety features that will ensure that you fly and land the model without breaking it.
With the automatic take-off and landing and the fail-safe land that happens when you lose connection, your drone will not be damaged easily.
For those who are more experience with flying drones, you can simply toss the Tello into the air to get it started, and begin doing tricks like 8D flips and other aerial stunts with the remote.
Or, if you want to have some fun, just use the bounce mode to make the drone move up and down on its own.
When I unboxed the Tello, I noticed it was very easy to unbox. Everything was ready to fly. You get a battery, some extra props, and a tool to mount the props.
When I touched the Tello I felt that it was pretty compact and well-built.
I think this is a great VR drone for beginners and offers a lot of bang for the buck.
Best Overall FPV/VR Drone: DJI Mavic Pro
I think without a doubt the combination of the DJI Mavic and the DJI Goggles provides one of the most advanced FPV experiences today.
The Mavic is a compact yet fairly high-end drone made by DJI has 4K video, a 3-axis gimbal and 27 minutes of flight time. At least, that’s the claim. In reality you’ll probably get a little less than that in real world conditions.
The Mavic Pro is not a big VR drone, which is sort of the point. For one thing, the Mavic Pro folds up for easy transport and it’s an all-in-one design with the camera and gimbal encapsulated within a clear housing.
The coolest aspect is directly controlling the gimbal with just the motion of your head while wearing the VR headset. It’s an almost-instant 1:1 movement of the camera with your head, which means that you can now easily control both the camera and the flight controls at the same time. That’s a big advantage over the traditional approach where one person gets the shot while the other flies.
While it’s not as fast and robust as a DJI Phantom, the Mavic beautifully walks the line between a professional VR drone and one for mainstream consumers.
The Best VR Drone Camera Combo: DJI Phantom 4 PRO
I think most people want to try FPV/VR flying to experience flight in a more personal way. It’s a very different experience to watching a screen on your controller and most of us will never get the chance to sit in the cockpit of a real aircraft. At least not more than once or twice.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a real advantage to VR flight for those who are interested in making great clips for professional use.
For one thing, when you wear VR goggles you don’t have to worry about your LCD being invisible in bright outdoor light. Yes, shade visors help, but LCD displays just don’t fare well in the outdoors.
Secondly, by using head tracking to control the camera gimbal, you can eliminate the need for a second person to split the camera and piloting duties. So head-tracked VR is about more than just being cool.
This means that in some cases you’ll really want a great photographic platform and that’s where the Phantom 4 Pro from DJI comes into play.
This VR drone is probably the best photography drone before we get to the big industrial units that can carry SLRs and other custom camera equipment.
With a one inch Sony EXMOR 20 megapixel sensor and up to 30 minutes of flight time it’s hard to think of a better machine for the money.
You have a 7 kilometer range, plenty of intelligent flight features such as obstacle detection and the ability to take 4K footage at 60 FPS.
If you want to be a one-person photography monster, this is the way to go unless you have the sort of cash to stump up for the Inspire or better, but for most people the sweet spot is right here.
Best All-On-One FPV/VR Drone Solution: The Parrot Bebop 2 FPV
You’d be forgiven in thinking that Parrot is no longer around. The company started out right at the beginning of the camera drone revolution with the original AR Drone, but since then has been fairly low-profile as the like of DJI get all the attention.
Make no mistake however, Parrot is still making some great consumer drones and if you want something that will just work out of the box then this Bebop 2 FPV is pretty hard to beat.
In the box you’ll find the Bebop itself, the Parrot Cockpitglasses and the Parrot Sky Controller 2. They’re all made to look like a set and it’s a very futuristic design overall. The Bebop 2 VR drone can shoot 1080p videos or 14 megapixel photos.
There’s not gimbal, but you do get 3-axis digital stabilisation which ends up looking pretty good for amateur footage.
The Cockpitglasses don’t contain any video hardware, but need your smartphone and the appropriate app to work. You slip the phone into the case and then the video is beamed there via wireless transmission.
While this is no Mavic Pro, the Bebop 2 VR drone has an excellent 25 minute flight time, is compact and doesn’t weigh much at all. It’s pretty much the perfect park flyer for those who want a decent drone, but don’t want to splurge on the FPV hardware.
Thanks to the Skycontroller 2the Bebop can fly out up to about 1.9 kilometers, which is OK but not really a platform for urban exploration.
Best Upgradeable VR Drone: The DJI Spark
The Spark is a revolutionary new VR drone from DJI that we quite liked, but there has been a lot of misinformation when it comes to the FPV abilities of this little wonder.
One big question has been whether it would work with DJI’s premier VR/FPV Goggles. On the DJI site itself the company has confirmed that compatibility with the DJI Goggles is coming “soon”, but plenty of YouTubers have demonstrated that the latest update is fairly compatible with the Goggles, it’s just not officially sanctioned yet.
The great thing about the Spark is that it’s affordable, but has some pretty good specifications.
One of the way DJI have kept the cost down is by now including a dedicated radio in the standard retail package. In this case you mainly use the automated flight features or take control using the DJI app.
Buy the Spark now and enjoy one of the best small VR drones on the market and when you have more money, but the radio and goggles. Easy terms indeed.
The Best Budget VR Drone Bundle: Sky Viper V2400 HD
Not too long ago the only way you were going to have any sort of first-person flying experience was to shell out a small mountain of money. Now you can get a basic FPV experience for chump change and the Sky Viper is the perfect example of that.
How does it achieve this feat? By stealing an idea from the mobile VR industry. You’ve certainly seen those VR goggles where you slip your phone into a head-mounted case and then experience a basic VR app. This uses that same principle, but instead of a VR roller coaster or something similar, you’re looking at the live feed from your drone.
So saying that this VR drone is affordable comes with the caveat that you already need to own a compatible smartphone, otherwise it won’t make any sense.
The Sky Viper has some pretty advanced features for a budget drone. It has 720p streaming, which can also be recorded to an (optional) SD card. Surprisingly there are also some intelligent flight features too, which includes auto launch, hover and landing.
Also, as an added bonus, it seems you can use the headset as a standard mobile VR unit when not flying.
Best VR Drones In the Hot Seat
Here is a great video from Greg Farnum on what is needed to get started with FPV and VR drones:
Keep in mind to check out our article on FPV Goggles as well.
With the new drones from DJI, like the Avada with a very immersive VR headset, the age of the VR drone is finally here for everyone.
What used to be a luxury for the professionals is now an experience you can get even in the budget drone segment.
I think these are some of the best examples today, but clearly there’s nowhere to go but up from here!
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