5 best drone simulators for PC

By: Matthew Adams
5 minute read
drone simulator PC

UAVs, otherwise drones, could be the future of aviation. Drones are remotely operated aerial devices with attached cameras. They are already increasingly prevalent in air forces, and there are also plenty of drones retailing on Amazon. For example, this Amazon page includes a quadcopter drone with HD FPV (First Person View) camera; and the drones can have built-in, tablet/mobile or head mounted displays.

You can have lots of fun with quadcopters and selfie drones, but it might be better to check out drone simulator software before embarking on a maiden flight. There are a few simulators in which you can fly various types of drones across vast 3D landscapes. The publishers design the software so that you can get a feel for drone flying without going airborne with your actual quadcopter. Some drone (or quad) software even come with controllers that are much the same as the real flight transmitters. These are five of the best qaudcopter simulators for Windows.

Drone simulator for PC

RealFlight Drone Simulator

RealFlight is probably the most detailed and realistic quad simulator for Windows. An Interlink Elite Controller comes bundled with it to enhance the realism. The RealFlight simulator is retailing at $129, and it’s compatible with Windows platforms from Vista to 10. The software’s system requirements are surprisingly light as it only requires 512 MB RAM, but it also needs three GB hard disk space. There’s also a $179 RealFlight X version that has a Unigine engine and enhanced graphics.

In this simulator, you can explore FPV camera control, capture photographs of vivid landscapes and fly in a variety of conditions. It includes numerous radio-controlled aircraft and quadcopters to fly, such as the Hexacopter, Quad X, H4 Quad 520, Tricopter and 8X Quad. The simulator also has millions of acres of landscapes and drone race courses to fly across. Check out this YouTube video that showcases RealFlight’s detailed landscapes and smooth 3D graphics.


Drone Racing League: High Voltage

DRL: High Voltage is official software of the Drone Racing League, which is a company that organizes international drone race events. What sets this simulator apart from some of the others is that includes real race courses from DRL events. Note that this is still beta software, so it’s not an entirely finished package. However, it’s still a polished freeware simulator that you can add to 64-bit Windows 8 and 10 from this Steam page.

DRL: High Voltage is all about drone racing, so you can expect plenty of high-speed thrills and spills from this one. It’s not as realistic as some of the alternatives, but it provides greater entertainment. The software packs in real outdoor and indoor race courses, drone pilots and racing league seasons. The publisher is promising a real-time multiplayer mode for High Voltage. You can also play HV with a Taranis X9D FPV simulator controller along with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4 gamepads.


Hotprops

Hotprops is another drone simulator that’s still in beta. This quadcopter racing simulator pays closer attention to realistic flight physics than High Voltage and other alternative software. Hotprops is currently freeware that you can add to Windows 7/8/10 and Mac OS X platforms from this website page. The software requires a hefty four GB hard drive space, two GB RAM and 2.4 Ghz processor.

The developers have designed Hotprops to be a realistic drone-racing simulator. As such, the software has more advanced flight physics and includes adjustable drone parameters. Players can adjust the battery cells, number of propellers, motors and other parts of the drones so that they match their real quadcopters. Furthermore, Hotprops already includes freestyle and race modes for online multiplayer racing.


Liftoff

Liftoff is another new drone simulator on the block that’s an Early Access game. However, the game is retailing on Steam at £14.99 (about $20). This simulator is similar to Hotprops as it’s largely based on FPV quadcopter racing and has realistic drone physics. Liftoff is also mutliplatform software that’s compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux; but you’ll also need a remote or controller for it.

As Liftoff is not a finished package, some drone fans might overlook it until the publisher launches the final version. However, the Early Access software has had rave reviews on Steam; and the final simulator will be better still. The game has nine standard levels that include first-person view quad race courses in a mixture of urban and countryside settings. Players can also design their own courses with the Track Builder. Another great thing about Liftoff is that you can customize the quadcopters by adding new props, receivers, motors, batteries, etc. The game also has silky smooth, detailed 3D landscapes, great lighting effects and looks fairly realistic!


FPV Freerider

FPV Freerider has captivated drone fans. The simulator has plenty of customization settings, realistic flight controls and supports a good range of controllers. FPV Freerider is retailing at $4.99, which is a good value, and there’s also a demo version that you can try first. You can add the software to Windows, Mac OS X and Linux platforms. There’s also a Freerider app for the Android OS.

Freerider has six maps that include desert, meadow and forest landscapes and diverse track layouts. Players can fly the drones across loop courses and full figure-eight tracks in first-person view or line of sight modes. They can also select between acro or self-leveling flight modes for the drones. The simulator has a plethora of customization settings for the rotation rates, camera and physics. It also supports a good range of controls keyboard, touchscreen and USB controllers. FrSky Taranis, Realflight, Futaba, PS3 and Xbox are just a few of the Freerider’s supported controllers.

Freerider, Liftoff, Hotprops, High Voltage and RealFlight are enthralling simulators for drone fans. With those simulators you can experiment with all the dynamics of drone flying, and the games’ race courses recreate all the thrills of quad racing.

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