What is Headless Mode on a Drone?

Most quadcopters and drones all look the same no matter which way you turn them around, but there is a solution for this. What is Headless Mode on a Drone? This handy little feature prevents flights from becoming too complicated because all turns are made using one button – up means go forward; down means stop; left means turn left; right means turn right.

Some drone manufacturers have made it easier to determine a drone’s orientation by adding color-coded LED lights on each side. Much like the wings of an airplane, which you can tell from different colored lights on opposite sides of the plane depending if it’s flying towards or away from you, you can often determine if a drone is facing left or right based off of its LED light colors.

But a much more efficient way of dialing in your drone’s orientation is by learning how to use headless mode. With headless mode, the drone has no heads. This makes it easier to control because you won’t have to worry about which side is left, right, front or back – instead you’ll just need to think about where you want the device to go.

Why does a drone’s orientation matter?

Headless Mode on a Drone

Not being able to quickly detect a drone’s orientation often makes it difficult for novice pilots to control it. Learning how to fly requires a great deal of patience, especially when troubleshooting orientation issues.

Controls feel counterintuitive at first

It may take some practice to learn how to properly maneuver a vehicle from one spot to another, especially when moving it from forward gear to reverse. Driving forward requires turning the steering wheel toward the left or right depending on where you want your car’s front end or back end. However, reversing requires the opposite: turning the steering wheel away from the direction that you would like for it to travel in order for it to move backwards. This leads many people having difficulties at first until they adjust and become accustomed with what is being asked of them by their vehicle’s engine.

LEDs are helpful, but not always

LED lights can be helpful for figuring out which end of the drone is the front when it’s time to take off, but after a certain distance, they’re invisible. If you’re having trouble remembering what direction the drone faces, you might use the controller to guide it back towards its original course; say turning left to avoid some power lines. But if the drone is in Normal Mode and facing a different direction from how it was at takeoff – like from northwest to southeast or vice versa – then instead go east or west respectively. Orientation isn’t easy for new pilots and this is just one struggle among many other issues that we all face.

Headless mode makes flying drones more beginner-friendly

Headless mode

Headless mode is a built-in setting for many drones, ensuring that orientation will never be an issue again. Every time you take off from the ground, the drone remembers which side was its front – or what direction it faced when first taken off from the ground – so if you want to make any directional changes, all you need to do is adjust according to this point of view.

As such, no matter if your drone’s front side is facing towards or away from you, turning the remote control to one direction will make it move in that direction while going the other way will still make it move in that direction too.

Headless mode drastically increases the functionality of your drone; it makes it easier to fly around obstacles that obscure the line of sight. When flying in headless mode, your drone will always move how you want it to no matter where its facing or what direction it needs to go in.

FPV cameras help with remembering a drone’s orientation

If you’re used to flying drones with a built-in camera and a remote control that displays the camera footage, judging its orientation will be much easier. Typically whatever side the camera faces is called the front.

Flying using the drone’s camera to navigate is referred to as FPV, or first-person view. This means you are seeing everything the drone sees; which for many beginner pilots, is much easier than being told from up high. With FPV flight mode, it’s easy to know where your drones’ orientation is because it’s all about what you’re seeing!

FPV mode vs headless mode

FPV mode vs headless mode

If your drone has a camera and FPV is an option, this is usually the best way to control your flight. You will always know exactly where it is and what its orientation is at all times.

If you don’t have access to an FPV feed from your drone, then headless mode is a great alternative flight mode. You can fly confidently without worrying about crashing or losing orientation of where the nose of the drone points.

When learning to fly drones, it’s a good idea to practice both methods. Typically one will feel more natural than the other, but it doesn’t hurt to experiment. Once you find which method suits you best, keep practicing for better results!