Drones are amazing flying machines and a healthy way to spend your free time in the sky. If you have just joined the flying community, you might have a few basic questions in mind. One of them might be about how drones communicate with the controller. Do drones need WiFi to fly? Let’s find out in this blog post. Do
Drones do not need to connect to your house WiFi network to fly. But they do create their own WiFi hotspot to communicate with the Remote Controller or your Smartphone. Due to this, you can fly your drone anywhere, even in the mountains, without an internet connection.
Let’s see things in more detail to understand how drones communicate with your remote controller and what part a WiFi network plays in all this. By the end of this article, you will have a 100% understanding of drone control & communication and can boost your knowledge to your peasant non-flyer friends.
How do drones communicate with the controller?
There are two types of commercial drones in the market; one comes with its own remote controller and the other that you have to fly with your Smartphone.
Some toy category drones don’t come with their own remote controller (mainly to save cost) and can be controlled by your Smartphone. But high-end drones come with their own remote controller with physical joysticks.
But whichever drone you get, it needs some sort of radio wave communication with the controller and the drone. This communication system is used to control the drone’s flight and get real-time pictures and videos from the drone camera and other telemetry data like altitude, speed, heading, etc.
Why do drones use WiFi for communication?
WiFi is one of the most popular radio communication protocols used by drone manufacturers. There are a few reasons for that:
- The hardware used to deploy WiFi on drones is cheaply and widely available compared to any custom-designed radio communication system.
- WiFi is highly reliable, thanks to years of use across many different applications.
- WiFi is compatible with almost every operating system in existence, including Android and iOS.
- It has a really wide bandwidth, making it ideal for downloading large images and videos to your phone in real-time.
- It has a long range of up to 1000 meters with some enhanced WiFi-based systems like DJI Ocusync having a range of up to 10 KM.
Due to these reasons, WiFi is used by almost every modern drone to communicate between the controller (either smartphone App or physical remote) and the flying drone.
WiFi not only transmit control signals but also establish a link between the controller/smartphone and the drone to get real-time camera images. This way, you can see the camera view directly on your smartphone screen and be able to control it with joysticks on the controller.
Drones create their own WiFi hotspot
When we say drones need WiFi to communicate and fly, you might think about your home WiFi system. That’s is not true.
Every drone creates its own WiFi hotspot. It has the same WiFi chipset as found inside your Smartphone and can create a hotspot through which your controller can connect to the drone. Essentially, your drone is flying with its own portable WiFi router and does not have to be in the range of your home WiFi network to fly.
Due to this reason, you can fly your drone almost anywhere away from your home. Even in the mountains, where there is no WiFi or cellular network, your drone will create its own WiFi hotspot and fly perfectly.
Do I need internet connection to fly my drone?
No. You do not need to be connected to the internet to fly your drone. You can fly your drone without active internet communication just by utilizing your drone’s onboard WiFi hotspot that will create a local network.
However, some functions need an active internet connection. Like:
- Livestreaming: If you want to Livestream your drone’s footage on the internet (Facebook, youtube, etc.), you need to have an active internet connection on your phone or controller.
- Update Flight Maps: Your Fly App will occasionally need to connect to the internet to be able to download the latest maps and other geographical information from the internet, including any new geofencing rules and restrictions.
- Firmware Update: To fly optimally, both your remote controller and drone’s firmware have to be updated regularly. New updates bring bug fixes and improve performance. They also enable new features. To keep your drone up to date with the latest firmware, you will need to connect to the internet every now and then.
- Precise Location: Although your exact location is tracked using GPS satellites that work independent from your internet, if you have an active internet connection, your drone will lock on to your location much faster due to assistance from your cell tower.
Do drones need WiFi to fly? – Conclusion
Every drone creates its own WiFi hotspot that the remote controller or smartphone app can use to control it and get real-time camera footage.
You don’t need to be in your home WiFi range to be able to fly your drone. You can fly your drone anywhere you want without external WiFi signals or internet or cell service.
Do you need a smartphone to fly a drone?
You do not need a smartphone to fly a drone if your drone has its own remote controller. However, a smartphone connected to your drone can fetch live video and images from the camera in real-time and help you control certain aspects of your drone that you cannot do on your remote controller.
Does DJI fly app need internet?
The DJI Fly App does not need an internet connection to control and fly the drone, but it will need an internet connection to download updates and newer maps periodically. So, it is a good idea to connect your Smartphone or remote Controller with active internet every once in a while.
Do you need cell service to fly DJI drone?
No, you do not need cell service to fly your DJI drone. Your DJI drone will create its own local WiFi hotspot through which your Smartphone or remote Controller will connect to the drone. You can fly your DJI drone even in distant mountains far away from any cellular service.