What does headless mode on a drone mean? Read on to find out all the important details about this feature and how it can help you fly your drone safely and efficiently.
Touching your first drone after buying it anew feels like you are on top of the world. When you get ready to give your drone its first flight, the initial excitement might turn into nervousness. Controlling your drone at flight can be darn hard than you might have imagined.
Probably, headless mode is one of the most intelligent settings in a drone that will come to your aid at this point.
Also described as home lock or safe mode, flying in headless mode can be less frustrating, especially to beginners. Now you may want to know what headless mode is and how it helps a drone’s flight.
While set in headless mode, the drone flies facing forward irrespective of where you are positioned on the ground.
While flying in headless mode, the drone can respond to your commands irrespective of which direction it is facing. Therefore, you will not have to bother about your drone’s orientation during its flight.
Beginners find it very difficult to figure out all this stuff on their own. If you search on the internet inputting the term ‘headless mode’, you will find a huge amount of information that is difficult to go through and grasp. Often, the instruction manual accompanying the drones is not of much help to novices.
In this article, I have given the full details of what is headless mode and how it helps the drone and the drone pilot in ensuring the drone’s safe flight.
Related: Best Headless Mode Drones
What Does Headless Mode On A Drone Mean?
Headless mode on a drone – How does it work?
If you are keen to understand how headless mode works on a drone, you need to first become familiar with the physics of how a drone flies.
Drones are unique kind of gadgets that can be compared to flying robots. You must understand that the aerial dynamics of robots are different from those of birds and airplanes.
Most drones have four propellers or blades. These are meant to manipulate the airflow to facilitate the drone’s flight. While two of the propellers rotate clockwise, the other two rotate anti-clockwise.
Each of the blades is powered by a motor that decides the blade’s rotation speed. Also, the rate of rotation of a given pair of drone propellers decides the direction in which the drone will fly.
The kind of flying mechanism a drone has makes three basic maneuvers possible namely yaw, pitch, and roll. Yawing refers to a drone rotating in its own axis.
Forward and backward movements are known as pitching. Movements towards the left or right are known as rolling.
These three kinds of maneuvers work in combination to fly the drone in the direction your desire. Irrespective of how complicated a given flying pattern is, it must be based on these three kinds of movements alone.
If you wish to make some advanced moves, you need to master all these three kinds of basic movements.
Drones make all these basic movements by pushing the air in the opposite direction. You must understand this point by paying attention to what I am going to say now. If the drone has to take off, it must push the air down.
To roll in the right direction, it must push the air to its left side. To roll in the left direction, it must push the air to its right side. If all the propellers are spun in full speed, the drone will yaw.
For pitching, the drone pushes the air either forward or backward depending on whether you are trying to fly the drone forward or backward.
Headless mode compared with a compass function
After letting the drone in the air for a few minutes, you may find it difficult to keep track of its orientation.
When you want your drone to roll in the right, you may command wrongly to roll in the left and vice versa. At this point, you will find headless mode extremely useful.
You can say headless mode in a drone guides it like a compass. As you know, a compass always points to the North. In the same way, the headless mode provides a fixed position to which the drone is always oriented during its flight.
Irrespective of whether the drone yaws, pitches, or rolls, the headless mode gives the drone a reference point to which the drone is heading. In fact, headless more can be explained as a marvelous engineering achievement.
If the drone is flying near you, you will be able to gauge its orientation without any difficulty. This is because you will clearly know which its front side is and which one is its backside.
However, when the drone is on a flight far away from you and after you have flown the drone for a while, it can be very difficult to say which is which.
When you have set the drone to headless mode, you can always say where the drone is flying. This will enable you to exercise better control over your flying machine.
You can also control its maneuvers effectively. Now you will know why headless mode is an incredible convenience.
How does headless mode help drone pilots?
There are several advantages to flying a drone in headless mode. Here are a few benefits of headless mode which are of crucial help to drone pilots.
Flying your drone in windier weather
Weather conditions can impact your drone’s flight significantly. Drone fly only by manipulating the air flows. During windier situations, drones find it difficult to manipulate air flows and hence the safe flight of a drone is at risk.
By setting your drone in headless mode, you can ensure the safe flight of your drone as the wind’s effect on your drone is minimized and your control over the drone is maximized.
If you can have better control over your drone, you can fly or land your drone safely when the weather conditions are uncertain. Heedless mode reduces the risks of a crash and control significantly.
Headless mode can help prevent drone accidents when you try to fly your drone in a challenging setting. Headless mode lets you keep complete track of the drone’s direction and the risk of crashing the drone on a tree or building is reduced considerably.
Since headless mode lets you track your drone’s orientation and have better control of your drone, your drone is out of any harm.
Useful for budding drone pilots
Headless mode can also be described as a beginner-friendly mode. Those who have got their drone for the first time will find this setting very useful.
Headless mode can help them master the art of controlling their drone safely till they get trained well. While flying your drone in headless mode, you can experiment with some new moves and maneuvers. Beginners will find it a breeze to fly their drone in headless mode.
Enhanced control over your drone
While flying your drone for recreation, the headless mode can give you enhanced control over your drone. Therefore, you are at freedom to try trickier moves.
While you are on a drone race with your friends, the headless mode will keep you in the zone. You are less likely to make the mistake of giving wrong commands to your drone.
Therefore, the headless mode can give you enough freedom to learn flying your drone in an efficient way.
Headless mode drawbacks
There are some drawbacks to the headless mode on a drone, which I have discussed below.
You must learn how to fly your drone in headless mode
Though flying your drone in headless mode is easier than in normal mode, you need to first learn how to fly it in headless mode. This will feel like learning how to do something in a training academy.
Learning to fly your drone in headless mode, however, gives you the opportunity to learn about the altitude and speed limits.
Though you will find it confusing in the beginning, it is very important that you thoroughly understand it. the learning curve that you will have to go through is one of the challenges you will have to face on the way.
Some pilots find this mode an addiction
Quite many pilots fall in love with headless mode so easily. Hence they tend to make this the default flying mode of their flying companion.
Once you get used to headless mode, you will find it difficult to transition to other modes and will also find it difficult to fly your drone in normal mode.
If you are fully used to flying your current drone in headless mode and if you buy a new drone that does not support this mode, you will have to learn the art of flying a drone from the beginning.
Headless mode can also be dangerous
To fly in headless mode, the drone depends on the magnetic sensors embedded into its construction.
Therefore, if there are any electromagnetic interferences like cellphone towers in the zone where it flies, it could lead to crashing. While flying your drone in such areas, you must be extra careful.
You may not need to use headless mode at all
In first-person view drones, for instance, headless mode is of no use. The only advantage of headless mode is you will know which direction your drone is facing.
When you have installed a camera and have worn goggles to your eyes, you will feel like you are in the driver’s seat and hence will be in better control of your drone than while flying it in headless mode.
Under such circumstances, you will hardly have any need for headless mode. In such scenarios, the only time when the headless mode will come to your use is while trying to take an aerial selfie.
Should you use headless mode on your drone or not?
If you are serious about mastering the technique of flying a drone well, never make headless mode your drone’s default flying mode. It is important that you try other modes as well.
In some circumstances, flying your drone in headless mode might become an absolute necessity. In some other situations, the headless mode can become a hindrance. Therefore, using headless mode solely depends on your goals.
If you happen to fly your drone over long distances, the headless mode can help in the safe return of your drone. Headless mode is highly recommended during such situations. Also, the headless mode can help you prepare yourself for an FPV flight.
While beginning to fly your drone, the headless mode can give you a winning edge before you switch over to the normal mode. Headless mode works like an introduction to those who want to learn to fly drones efficiently.
Therefore, if you feel there is a genuine and logical need to use headless mode on your drone, you can certainly make use of this wonderful setting.
Flying your drone in headless mode can be compared to automatic driving. While manual driving feels more enjoyable, automatic driving can rob the thrill of driving.
However, there can be times when automatic driving can come to your help. Flying headless has its own advantages and disadvantages. The choice is yours if you know how to make the best use of this facility.
Jon is a passionate photographer and videographer who has been flying DJI drones for over 5 years. He loves the freedom and creativity that comes with capturing aerial footage and the unique perspective it provides. Jon is always on the lookout for new locations to explore and capture with his DJI drones. His favorite DJI drone is the Mavic 2 Pro, which he uses to capture stunning 4K footage with its Hasselblad camera. Jon is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with other drone enthusiasts and is a member of several online drone communities. When he’s not flying his DJI drone, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.