How Does Drone Work

How Does Drone Work was asked by many in comments by Letsmakeprojects Readers, So here is how!

In this article of “How it Works”, we are going to talk about how drones fly. You know those things you see up in the sky recording its surroundings with a camera, that’s a drone. Even though I’m all grown up, the way I look at drones is the way a baby looks at a lollipop. I bet a lot of you look at drones the same way as me.

Drones are fascinating pieces of 21st-century technology and have changed the course of technology history. They’re what helps movie-makers to make amazing film content of car scene chases and many more action scenes. Now they’re even being used by the military to take down terrorists. There are delivery services are going to use drones for transportation in the future.

Some of you might have big questions like how do drones stay in one place midair or maybe, how can such a heavy and big thing move so effortlessly in midair.

But first, before we answer all those questions let’s head down to the basics!

What are Drones?

Drones are also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). This just means that it is a flying object without a pilot on board. It can be controlled by a human operator by remote control or if available drones can use autopilot assistance to have autonomous flight, where a human can specify the task and the drone will finish the task.

Drones are used in aerial photography, product deliveries, policing and surveillance, infrastructure inspections, drone racing, and many more cool applications.

Types of Drones

There are 3 types of drones and they all are completely different from each other

Note: For videos on How Does Drone Work you can refer my older project videos

Multi-Rotor Drones

They are the most common type of drones and are powered with electricity. They are used in aerial photography, aerial video surveillance but also for hobby purposes too, such as drone racing and leisure flying. They’re also the easiest to manufacture and cheapest to buy of the 3 types.

They can further be classified by the number of rotors (wings) they have: Tricopter (3 rotors), Quad copter (4 rotors), Hexacopter (6 rotors), and Octocopter (8 rotors).Fixed Wing Drones -They use a wing design and in layman’s terms, it looks like a miniaturized airplane.

They can usually be powered by gas or electricity, with the capability of gas, these drones can fly for much more time than multi-rotor drones. To launch this type of drone, you need to runway or catapult to get it flying in the air. It’s like how airplanes launch and land These drones focus more on gliding in the air than flying around. They can never stay at one spot as they’re always moving. These drones are used for aerial surveillance & photography and mapping.

Single Rotor Drones

These drones are very similar and follow the principle of modern-day helicopters. These drones have one big rotor on top which helps them move up, down, right, and left. And they also have a small rotor at the back which helps stabilizes the drone. These rotors work in sync to help the drone to fly. They are more efficient than the other two types of drones as they don’t focus on stability, have higher flying times, and can be powered by gas engines. 

But according to science and aerodynamics, the lower the rotor count the less the spin of the drone. That’s why octocopters are more stable than quadcopters and quadcopters are more stable than single rotor drones. This makes this kind of drone dangerous to fly and results in serious accidents. They require special licenses and expertise to fly. They don’t need a special place to launch and land. These drones can be equipped with heavy HD cameras and weapons such as guns. This makes them special to filmmakers and law enforcement.

We are going to discuss how multi-rotors work in this article as this is the drone that is very interesting to see work. The other two drone types use the same structure and design of airplanes and helicopters which everyone knows about. 

Also, as I said before multi-rotor drones come in different types but for the sake of the discussion, I will talk about how quad copters work (the different types of multi-rotor drones work on the same principles, though).

Now onto the biggest question of all – how drones fly!

How Does Drone works

Parts of Drone (Quad copter):

  • Motors – Moves the rotors which help it fly
  • Rotors – The blades which help the quad copter propel
  • Receiver (Remote Controller) – This is what helps you control the drone. You can move it anywhere you want with its controls
  • Computer Chip – It includes the:
  • Motherboard – Controls all the electronics on the drone, it is the brain of the drone
  • Radio Receiver – It includes the wireless adapter which has Bluetooth 4g and Wi-Fi. This helps the drone communicate with the receiver on the ground which you control
  • Accelerometer – This helps maintains the proper acceleration of the drone. It makes sure the speed of the drone doesn’t variably change and entails a smooth flight.
  • Altimeter – Measures the height of the drone and makes sure the drone doesn’t fly up too high.
  • Camera – It’s usually placed on a gimbal which can move the camera around and can be controlled by the remote control.
  • Landing Gear – Helps the drone land

But How does drone work/flies?

Well, it’s quite simple. There are 4 motors on a drone and those motors can move in clockwise and counterclockwise directions and can change their speed variably. With this can help the drone move all over or stay in mid-air in one place.

So let us now look at the situations a drone can move in:

Lift Off

To make the drone liftoff, the motors will spin clockwise at full speed to gain thrust and lift off. This will lift the drone off the ground.  

If you want the drone to move more up in-flight, you can make the motors to spin faster which causes the drone move up.

Moving Left

In this scenario, all the motors will move counterclockwise. But 2 of the motors on the right will be at 100% speed and the motors on the left will be at 75% speed. This unbalance in speed will make the drone tilt to the left thus causing the drone to move left.

Moving Right

This is very similar to the last situation but in this case the motor orientation and speed will switch. The motors will be moving clockwise. The motors on the left will be at 100% speed and the motors on the right will be at 75% speed which causes the imbalances in speeds and causes the drone to move right.

Moving Front

In this case, the motors will be moving in clockwise direction and the motors at the back will be at 100% speed and the motors in the front will be at 75% speed. Again, this will cause an imbalance in speed which causes the drone to tilt forward and eventually move in the forward direction.

Moving Back

For this, the motors will be moving in the clockwise direction. This is simmilar to the last case. But here, the motors in the back will be at 75% speed and the motors in the front will be at 100% speed. Which you know by now, causes the drone to move back.

How does drone hover in one place

As we discussed earlier in the article, we had a question, “How do drones stay in one place mid-flight?” Well now we will answer that question. Its quite simple actually, the motors move at a slow constant speed and accelerate at a slow exponential rate upwards so that the drone doesn’t move down. This acceleration helps the drone stay in place and when the motors are slowing out and has to move down the acceleration will help the drone to move up at the same time.


Now to the final situation, the motors will move in clockwise direction and gradually decrease its speed when moving downwards. Once it touches the ground the built-in-altimeter will tell the drone to stop moving.

But if you want the drone to move downwards mid-flight, the motors will decelerate and slowly move downwards until your desired height.

As you can see in all these situations, the direction of drone can change and speed can get manipulated, which is what makes the drone fly around.      

Now that we covered that a drone can encounter let us discuss how this is done in real time with the drone and remote control and the person controlling the remote.

On the remote control you can control the direction the drone moves and it follows the scenarios as given before. You can also change the speed on the remote which decides how fast the drone can also go. Flying drones is very simple and counterintuitive.

Thank you for reading this article How Does Drone Work and staying till the end. I hope you understood everything well. If you have any doubts, please feel free to ask in the comment box at the bottom.

Please read all the other articles of the “How it Works” series as they very interesting and help you understand how things work.

Check this video on how does drone work



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