Sheltering in place to help stop the spread of coronavirus? Social distancing at home? If you’re stuck indoors, at least entertain yourself with some fun new indoor drones!
I went through my closet of drones and pulled out some old favorites. As it turns out, some drones are actually BETTER when flown indoors. Many of the drones in this guide are on the cheaper end, which sadly means they don’t hold up well in the slightest breeze. But they’re also mighty fun, which means they’re a great item to add to your next Amazon order as you stock up to stop coronavirus.
Without further adieu, here are the best indoor drones of 2020:
The best overall indoor drone: Tello
Flight time: 13 minutes per battery
Camera? Yes; 5-megapixel camera and shoots 720p video
The Tello is an all-around awesome drone. It does it all, and it does it all well.
It’s great indoors, but it still flies well in most conditions outdoors. It’s got a camera that takes decently great photos. It can perform stunts like flips to make the act of flying a bit more fun. It can even teach you how to code.
While it’s technically made by a company called Ryze, the drone often gets put under the DJI umbrella of drones because it was built using DJI flight technology— and an Intel processor.
The drone doesn’t come with an RC transmitter, but can be controlled via a mobile app (or an external one can be purchased separately). You can also control it via hand gestures. Video quality is decent for a $99 drone, but it doesn’t compare to some of DJI’s other drones like the Mavic Pro, or even the $399 Mavic Mini.
One really standout feature is how the Tello can teach you how to code. How’s that for a great social distancing project?! The drone pairs integrates with a programming language called Scratch. With it, you can program the drone to fly certain directions based on the “code” you have written.
All that for a $99 price tag is a pretty good deal. Oh, and if you’re a Marvel fan, get this: there’s an Iron Man version of the Tello drone.
For Star Wars fanatics: Propel Star Wars High Performance Battle Drone (with collectors edition box!)
Flight time: 5 minutes per battery
Star Wars nerds! Whether you love Baby Yoda, Kylo Ren, Ewoks or all of the above (that would be me!), the Propel Star Wars Battle Drones are incredible. No other drone in this guide has the combination of aesthetically stunning AND truly fun to fly.
They’re hand-painted and highly realistic drones, arriving in various designs like a tie fighter, speeder bike or X-Wing. And not only do the Propel drones fly, but they can also actually battle, due to their eye-safe lasers that can be fired at other Star Wars drones. You can pair drones together to turn them into a battle game, where the drone actually wobbles and the controller vibrates in your hand if hit. After three hits, the drone will crash land.
You can either play with a buddy. Or, if you’re truly in single-isolation, you can battle against others via system that records, combines and compares your performance against virtual players the world.
Best place to buy: Amazon ($40, on sale day of story publication for $35)
A hilarious toy drone controlled entirely by a glove: the Interactive Aura Drone
Flight time: 5-7 minutes per battery
If you need a laugh (and many of us do right now), I cannot stop laughing when I “fly” the Interactive Aura Gestured Control Drone. This is a gesture-controlled drone, without the DJI Spark price tag.
So how does it work, and at such a low cost? You put on a glove under a wrist attachment, which has a small sensor in it to control the drone.
Since there’s no RC transmitter or phone app you can only control the drone with the motion of your hand (ie. Tilt your hand up to make it fly higher. You can even flick your wrist to make the drone flip!)
It’s definitely complicated to control it perfectly, but it’s crazy fun. Plus, you may have all the time in the world (or at least a few weeks) inside to master it.
Best place to buy: Amazon ($28, on sale day of story publication for $24)
Funny toy drones not so much your thing? If you’re looking for other ways to spend time indoors, social distancing, check out my guide to the 8 best ways drone pilots can maintain their hobby indoors.
If you’re curious about drone racing: the Fat Shark 101 Training system
Camera? FPV camera
Fat Shark’s FPV (first-person view) headsets are the gold standard among drone racing pros. But even if you’re not a pro, there’s great news. Fat Shark makes a kit with everything you need to get started drone racing.
With the Fat Shark 101 Training system, you get a radio, goggles and tiny quadcopter all in one kit. The RC transmitter has two modes for beginners and more advanced pilots, giving you an opportunity to improve your skills as you’re at home self-quarantining.
I love how easy this kit is to upgrade. While the quality of each individual piece is good, should you decide to step it up, you can swap out individual pieces (ie. just the goggles, or just the drone) and incorporate them into the kit.
Best place to buy: Amazon ($249, on sale day of story publication for $137)
Not so much into drones as toys, drones for racing, or drones for joyful kicks? If you’re looking for other ways to spend time indoors, social distancing, check out my guide to the 8 best ways drone pilots can maintain their hobby indoors.
What do you think are the best indoor drones? Leave a comment below!