What Is a Headless Mode on a Drone? Everything You Need to Know!

This article will explain what this feature is for, how it works, and give you a tutorial on using it along with tips and tricks.
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Last updatedLast updated: March 31, 2024
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Have you ever found it challenging to keep track of your drone’s orientation while flying? If so, you need to know what it means to be in headless mode. After reading this article, you will understand the meaning of headless mode in drone flight and if it’s appropriate to utilize it.

Headless Mode Explained

A headless mode is a particular drone flying mode that can be found on almost all entry-level drones on the market. The definition of a headless mode is the drone’s in-built ability to remember the orientation it started with, also know as auto orientation. This feature reduces the need for the pilot to concentrate on the drone’s orientation, making Line of Sight flying way easier. And, there’s no denying that understanding how your quadcopter works Trusted Source Drones Might Work Longer With Some Bird-Inspired Modifications : NPR Small drones have a problem — their battery life runs out relatively quickly. A team of roboticists says it has created special landing gear that can help conserve precious battery life. www.npr.org can save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to flying it.

It’s important to note that the phrase ‘headless mode’ does not apply to all drone types. Some brands use other terminologies, such as DJI’s ‘Home Lock’ and Yuneec’s ‘Safe Mode.’ Regardless, they all have the same function. As a drone owner, you can benefit from headless mode because it makes it easier to maintain orientation when looking up at your drone from a distance.

How does headless mode on a drone work?

What Is a Headless Mode on a Drone? Everything You Need to Know!

Although there is no definitive explanation for how a headless drone works, they are all quite basic and require only a click of a button to activate. Now, because each drone is completely different from the other, understanding how the headless mode on your drone works requires first understanding the physics of flying a drone.

To fly, your drone contains four propellers (blades) that manage airflow. Two of these propellers spin in a clockwise direction, while the other two spin in a counterclockwise direction. Each one includes a motor that controls the rotational speed. Furthermore, the drone’s direction is determined by the rotation rate of the pair of propellers. This is true for all types of drones, including small recreational drones for fishing and drones under 250 grams.

The buttons on the controller are usually not labeled, especially on cheaper ones. This is why the location of the headless mode activator must always be checked in the manual. How can you tell if it’s turned on or not? All you have to do now is launch the drone and test the controller. The headless mode is already turned on if you move the joystick to the right and the drone goes in the same direction. It’s not yet active if it goes in the opposite direction.

Why is it like a compass?

It’s not impossible to encounter difficulties in determining the drone’s true direction after a few minutes in the air. As a matter of fact, you could make a direction to the left when you should have made it to the right. This is when the headless mode comes into play.

The headless mode functions as a compass for the drone. When you’re close to your drone, you can see which way it’s flying. To put it another way, you can tell its front from its back. However, it might be difficult to discern “which is which” while flying, especially after a long flight.

Moreover, you can always determine how your drone is flying when it’s in headless mode. As a result, you have a better hold on your drone and gain more control over its movements. Doesn’t this make perfect sense?

Advantages of using headless mode

This mode, like any other feature, offers advantages. Nonetheless, there are often questions about whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. First, let us look into the advantages of a drone’s headless mode.

  1. Beginner-friendly

In this mode, orientation navigation is no longer a source of confusion. When you’re flying, you can try out different maneuvers and even create your own. Flying in headless mode is a lot easier, especially if you’re a newbie. With it, you have intuitive control of your drone. And as a beginner, you can concentrate more on the drone’s orientation because you don’t have to worry about where the drone’s head is pointing. Moreover, even if the drone loses its visual line of sight, you can still control it based on the orientation it gives you.

  1. Flying in windy weather conditions

Weather conditions might greatly impede your ability to fly. Drones fly by controlling air currents, making it difficult to fly properly in windy situations. On the other hand, flying in headless mode might reduce the wind’s effect by providing you with a greater grip on your drone. Furthermore, the more control you have over shifting weather circumstances, the safer you’re able to fly and land. Therefore, the risk of losing control and crashing is greatly decreased in headless mode. Indeed, the headless mode enhances your skills, whether you’re a beginner or an expert. So, if you’re not hindered by a lack of skill, then how fast or how high you can fly your drone will depend on your local laws and your drone capabilities.

  1. There are fewer accidents

Pilots can minimize accidents by using the headless mode incorporated into their drones.

Using the headless mode, you’re less likely to lose your sense of direction and crash into a building or get lodged in a tree when flying. There would be reduced risks of accidents since operators would have a shorter learning curve.

Disadvantages of using a headless mode

  1. You need to learn how to use it

Although flying your drone in headless mode is significantly easier, you still need to learn how to do it. It’s more like a vocational school where you’ll be required to work. It’s also an excellent time to learn about speed and altitude restrictions. It may be perplexing at first, but it is crucial. You can fly like a pro without it after some time, but you’ll have to go through a learning curve again to get there.

  1. It’s addictive

A lot of our young readers have fallen in love with viewing recreational drones, prompting them to ask us how they could spot a drone at night. We’ve written a cool article on that, but drone addiction is not limited to observers. It’s simple to fall in love with the headless mode by drone drivers, too, thereby turning it into their default flight mode. If your brain becomes accustomed to it, switching to other modes may be difficult. Furthermore, if you spend too much time in headless mode, it will be difficult to fly without it. If your existing drone has headless mode, getting a new one without it will be like learning to fly all over again.

  1. It can be dangerous

Flying in an area with a lot of electromagnetic interference (such as cell phone towers) can enhance your chances of crashing. The magnetometer, a small sensor presents within drones that allow for direction guidance, is extremely sensitive to electromagnetic fields, impairing its functionality. Therefore, flying near electricity lines, metallic towers, and pylons should be avoided.

  1. It’s not always needed

If you get used to flying drones in this mode, you could find it difficult to switch to the usual mode, where movement is proportional to the direction the drone is looking. The headless mode does not operate in most circumstances when flying in FPV mode, which is the mode you would be using the most. This means that relying on headless mode when flying in FPV mode, which is how you’ll fly if you have a camera-equipped drone or a racing drone, will be counterproductive. You are constantly viewing footage from the front of the drone when flying with FPV goggles or viewing FPV video on your controller or phone.

Should you use it?

It’s all up to you. It’s not a good idea to utilize headless mode for more than a few flights at a time. Switch to standard mode once you’ve gotten the hang of flying and become accustomed to gauging the drone’s orientation. However, if you’re a complete beginner or you’ve had some big crashes lately, you should use it more frequently. The real fun of flying quadcopters is in flying it manually, but you have to ensure you know the basics before you start discarding the headless mode.

The headless mode can provide you with an advantage when learning to fly before moving to normal mode. It’s an excellent starting point for learning how to fly a drone effectively.

However, as an expert, the headless mode could be used when necessary or when you desire it. Flying with or without it isn’t a life-or-death situation for you. Consider the difference between flying a drone in the headless or normal mode to be the same as driving a manual or automatic car. Manual driving is more pleasurable since it involves the driver. However, there are situations when you wished you had an automatic car. Indeed, there are many quality drones with accurate headless mode features on the market, such as the Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 FPV drone and Neheme NH525 foldable drones, both of which are good for amateurs and expert drone drivers.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now know the answer to your “what is a headless mode on a drone” question, whether you should use it or not, and when to use it. Indeed, it’s appropriate to use this tool when you’re just getting started because it’s designed to provide you with a moderate learning curve so you can become a confident pilot. It is only recommended as a stepping stone to more advanced skills Trusted Source Why Scientists Aim To Make A Drone Nearly As Small As A Mosquito : NPR Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are trying to match the flexibility and resilience of an insect with a more muscular generation of mini-drones. www.npr.org and FPV flying.

When your drone is beyond the visual line of sight and you’re having trouble with the map and telemetry, headless mode comes in handy. In these situations, turning on the headless mode will make it much easier to recover your drone. If this is your first time flying, there’s no harm in practicing with your drone in headless mode before moving on to standard flight mode. With that in mind, it’s really up to you to decide what you think will be the most fun and safest method to fly.


Drones Might Work Longer With Some Bird-Inspired Modifications : NPR
Small drones have a problem — their battery life runs out relatively quickly. A team of roboticists says it has created special landing gear that can help conserve precious battery life.
Why Scientists Aim To Make A Drone Nearly As Small As A Mosquito : NPR
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are trying to match the flexibility and resilience of an insect with a more muscular generation of mini-drones.
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