How Fast Do Drones Fly ?

If you're wondering how fast do drones fly, discover all the factors that influence the speed of consumer models, racing, and military drones.
how fast do drones fly featured image

Not so long ago, the idea of unmanned flying machines was reserved only for the realm of science fiction. However, today, drones have become a common sight, revolutionizing many industries. And since we all love to know the specs of devices, we wonder – how fast do drones fly

The most commonly used models of drones can achieve approximately 70km/h, while some top models can reach speeds of up to around 100km/h. When it comes to racing drones, they often exceed 160km/h, with the world record reaching an astonishing 360km/h. On the other hand, a military drone will approach its target at a comparatively modest speed of 210km/h, but the fastest models can achieve extraordinary speeds of over 20,000km/h.

What Makes a Drone Faster?

So how fast do drones fly? Sure, there is a straight answer to this, and it depends on the diverse applications that require these speeds, whether it’s consumer models, military, or racing ones. But if you are thinking about getting a faster model, you should understand what factors influence their velocity, and what makes them faster:

  • The power and efficiency of the drone’s motors and propellers significantly impact its speed. High-performance propulsion systems generate more thrust for quicker acceleration.
  • A sleek and aerodynamic design reduces air resistance, enabling drones to cut through the atmosphere with less drag.
  • Lighter drones require less force to move, allowing them to achieve greater speeds. So, materials used in construction play a crucial role in weight management.
  • Advanced flight controllers and stability systems are essential for maintaining control, even at high velocities. They ensure a safe and stable flight experience and that’s why they are also a crucial factor in a drone’s speed.
  • The efficiency and capacity of a drone’s battery dictate how long it can sustain high-speed flight. Longer-lasting batteries provide the endurance needed for faster flights.

Understanding these influential factors shows just how their harmony helps a drone achieve impressive speeds. A fast model is a result of a well-balanced combination of powerful propulsion, sleek design, low weight, advanced control systems, and efficient batteries.

Applications Requiring Higher Drone Speeds

As the realm of drone technology expands even further, speed stands out as one of the more prominent parameters. But to truly appreciate the significance of higher velocities for these devices, we should also explore the diverse applications, where speed matters most.

Applications Requiring Lower Drone Speeds

There are many instances where a higher speed is required from a drone. However, slower-moving drones offer greater control, precision, and safety in various scenarios. Here are some examples:

  • Crop spraying in agriculture. Slow-moving drones are often used in precision agriculture to spray pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
  • Mapping and surveying. When creating detailed aerial maps or conducting land surveys, slow-moving drones can capture high-resolution images with greater precision.
  • Environmental monitoring. Drones used for monitoring wildlife, tracking animal migrations, or assessing the health of ecosystems benefit from slower speeds, as it enables them to capture data without disturbing the environment or wildlife.
  • Light shows and entertainment. Slow-moving drones are ideal for creating intricate light shows and choreographed aerial displays.

Additionally, in both orthophotography and photogrammetry, the choice of drone speed should be carefully considered and optimized for the specific project’s requirements, as in the case of the Fribourg’s cadastral department.

How Fast Do Drones Fly in Different Categories

Drone speeds vary based on these different factors, and their area of application. And since their applications are widely different, just how fast can drones fly in each of these categories? From consumer drones designed for flying in the city to military drones, and the sports world of racing drones, there’s a unique range of speeds.

Consumer Drone Speed

When it comes to consumer drones, designed for photography, recreational use, and aerial exploration, speeds typically range from 25 to 50km/h. A standard consumer drone like the DJI Mini 3 Pro, usually has a limited speed, while some top models can achieve over 100km/h. You should also keep in mind that many models on the market don’t have the power to achieve even the average speed.

The table below offers some insight into different consumer models and their speed.

ModelMaximum speed in km/hWeight
DJI Mini 3 and DJI Mini 3 Pro57 km/h249g
DJI Air 2S68.4 km/h595g
DJI Mavic 3, Classic, and Pro75 km/h895g
DJI Phantom 472 km/h1.38kg
DJI Inspire 394 km/h4kg

How Fast Do Military Drones Fly?

The area of military drones spans a wide spectrum, with varying speeds tailored to specific missions. Surveillance drones, employed for intelligence gathering, often maintain relatively lower speeds compared to other military models, ranging from 200 to 350km/h, which enables discreet and prolonged observations.

However, armed drones designed for combat situations can soar at speeds exceeding 500 km/h or more. These high velocities are critical for rapid deployment, response, and engagement in critical military operations. For instance, The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, used for military and reconnaissance purposes, has a maximum speed of around 480km/h.

How Fast Do Racing Drones Fly?

Speed is very important when it comes to the thrilling world of drone racing. These drones, purposely built for agility and velocity, routinely surpass 100 km/h and frequently exceed 150 km/h. This sets the stage for one of the most exciting and high-speed sports on the planet. One fun fact stands out when it comes to high-speed custom-built drones. Ryan Lademann, flying his custom-built drone, the XLR V3 Red, has earned impressive recognition from the Guinness World Records. His drone has found its way into the record books by achieving a breathtaking speed of 360 km/h, on November 8, 2022.

FPV drone
Picture by Alexandre Coquoz

How is Drone Speed Regulated?

In the EASA open category, the maximum speed of the drone matters a lot for the so-called class marking. Drones shall not exceed a maximum speed of 19 m/s to obtain a class marking C0 or C1. For a C2 class marking, multicopters shall have a low-speed mode limiting the speed to 3 m/s. In the case of the EASA Standard Scenarios, the class markings C5 and C6 also require a low-speed mode and a speed limitation respectively. In the specific category, the speed is not limited as long as it is possible to build the UAS according to the applicable EASA drones Means of Compliance.

Soaring With High Velocities Into the Future

As we’ve delved into the topic of how fast do drones fly, it’s evident that these unmanned aerial vehicles continue to redefine the limits of what’s possible in the skies. But beyond the thrill of speed, it’s essential to remember the potential these drones hold for shaping our world. In this fast-paced world, the skies are no longer out of reach. If you’re interested in harnessing the power of drones, UASolutions is committed to helping you navigate the limitless possibilities of the skies. Contact us, as we offer comprehensive support throughout the entire authorization process and to ensure compliance with the SORA.