Drone Warfare: A Review of Battle Drones
Battle drones just might be the next frontier for drone applications. After recreation and photography, gaming appears to be the next activity that drones will take over. Developers of battle drones even foresee a future where drone battles become legitimate sporting events complete with multiplayer arenas and pro-level competitions.
Over the years, battle drones have evolved rapidly to make use of more sophisticated technology for more exciting and stretched out battles. In this review, we look at several models of battle drones currently available in the market. We focus on aspects important to their battling function – durability, controls, flight, and overall entertainment factor.
Air Wars Battle Drones for Children
A single package of the Air Wars Battle Drones for Children contains 2 drones which, for the price tag of $50, is dirt cheap. The drones come in red and silver colors, and each drone comes with its own similarly color-coded controller. This means that the drones are ready for dueling right out of the box. The rules for dueling are clearly stated on the box – the drone that crashes first loses.
- Battle with your remote controlled flying quad copter drone against an opponent to see who falls out of the sky, first!
- 4 Attack Moves: Tornado Attack, 360 Spin Attack, Circle Attack, Ram Attack
- Customizable weapons to help take down your rival
- Durable framing and propellers enclosed for safe play
- Includes 2 drones, 2 remotes, 10 weapons, 2-3.7v rechargeable lithium-polymer batteries, charging cables, and 8 replacement propellers
The package comes with an array of plastic weapons – including grappling hooks, spears, and saws – that can be attached to the frame’s propeller guards. The package also comes with 2 sets of extra propellers for each drone. Two rechargeable Li-Po batteries and a charging pack are included. When fully charged, the batteries should give a flight time of about 6 minutes.
The drones are very lightweight, but are made of surprisingly sturdy plastic. The frame of the drones comes with integrated propeller guards to protect the propellers from damage during dueling, and also serve as attachment points for the weapons. The propellers themselves are very low-powered to avoid damage, and stop immediately should contact be detected.
Each drone works on a unique frequency to avoid interference with the other drone. The drones are quite easy to set up and they should be operational in a matter of minutes. The control sticks of the controllers cover basic movements such as altitude gain, rotation, left-to-right, and forward-backward movement. Launching the drone can be done using a single button. The controllers also come with trim and speed control buttons that allow you to customize the way that your drone responds.
Since these are battle drones, the controllers have 4 very unique buttons that pertain to attacks. Activating the attacks – namely ram attack, tornado attack, 360 spin attack, and circle attack – results in the drone making impressive maneuvers designed to lay down the enemy drone. These attacks, coupled with the attached weapons, can be used in a variety of strategic and well-timed combinations to secure the win.
The drones have an effective range of about 40 feet. However, it is recommended to play in a large indoor space as even small gusts of wind can disrupt the flight of these very light drones.
The Air Wars Battle Drones are very simple and easy-to-use drones that were designed for hobbyists of all ages. At such a cheap price, they can be a good choice for beginners. However, knocking each other out of the sky can be a very fun experience even for more advanced drone pilots.
Air Hogs Star Wars X-Wing vs. Death Star Rebel Assault
The Air Hogs Star Wars X-Wing vs. Death Star Rebel Assault, retailing at $130, comes packaged with an X-Wing quadcopter, a Death Star, and one controller. You may ask, how can I duel with just a single controller? This package was designed for single player gameplay, with the Death Star able to hover autonomously.
- Pilot the X-wing drone and shoot down the autonomous Death Star by firing 3 direct hits! Careful not to get hit!
- Enjoy a smooth, high-performance flight with gyro-stabilization, 4-channel control, and 2.4GHz communication for up to a 200ft range.
- Pair the X-wing vs. Death Star, Rebel Assault with the Air Hogs Star Wars TIE Fighter Drone (sold separately) for even more epic battles.
- The Star Wars X-wing vs. Death Star, Rebel Assault is for ages 8+ and requires 6 AA batteries (not included).
The X-Wing vs. Death Star battle drone set uses a more sophisticated technology for dueling. The X-Wing and Death Star drones can emit infrared light to hit each other, simulating the space dog fights that made the Star Wars film series so popular. The game puts you in the cockpit of the X-Wing as you fly around to bring down the Death Star and save the Rebel Alliance. The Death Star itself fires its infrared beams at you. Three hits and you’re out, and the same goes for the Death Star.
Take note that the infrared beams are invisible, so you’ll have to stretch your imagination a bit and act like you’re firing actual laser beams. Since you can’t see the beams that the Death Star is firing, the only real way to avoid them is to keep moving. You will be alarmed when you get hit by a loud sound, and the X-Wing (and the Death Star) will wobble a bit.
The remote control is a standard 4-channel transmitter with Star Wars branding. An array of LED lights reflects on the heads-up display integrated into the transmitter to show you how many hits your X-Wing has taken. The remote control also comes with built-in Star Wars-themed audio such as blaster sounds when you make your shots.
The X-Wing drone itself looks great with collector-grade design and a gorgeous matte finish. LED lights light up the thrusters at the rear end, which looks great when flying in low light. The gray-color propellers somewhat ruin the illusion of the X-Wing design although they can turn invisible rather easily during flight. The drone is equipped with a gyro and accelerometer which help make the drone more stable and easy to fly. The drone comes with a 240mAh Li-Po battery, while the Death Star has a 200mAh Li-Po battery, both good for about 5 minutes of flight.
The X-Wing drone can feel quite heavy during flight because of the additional embellishments necessary for the design, but the drone actually flies quite well. It’s not very stable, but can zip around very quickly and has good pitch and yaw.
The very concept of doing dog fights using drones, especially one that is made to look like the iconic X-Wing, is in itself a very attractive concept. The Air Hog Star Wars X-Wing vs. Death Star Rebel Assault set is perfect for the drone hobbyist who has always wanted to be a Rebel Alliance pilot.
Space Rails Quadcopter Battle Drones Combo Set
The Space Rails Quadcopter Battle Drones Combo Set uses essentially the same infrared technology as the Air Hogs drones to stage dog fights. A package of this combo set retails at $80 comes with 2 drones (with blue/white and red/black color schemes) each with its own remote control, so dueling can be done right out of the box. Two (2) sets of propellers are included in the package.
- Battle your friends to see who really is the best quadcopter pilot!
- Infared point and shoot System gives you 4 lives. If you win, your opponents quadcopter will slowly land and lose the Battle
- Wind Resistant for Indoor and Outdoor Flight with Various Control Options of Up, Down, Left, Right, Forward, Backward, Sideward and More
- Excellent 2.4Ghz Remote Distance Reception With Longer Flying Times From a 3.7 volt Lithium Ion Rechargable Battery
- Battle MINI-Drone Set Includes: Two Battle MINI- Drones, Two Remote Controls, Rechargable Batteries, Cables and Instructions
The drones are quite small (can fit in the palm of your hand) and light, and are extremely stable during flight. Flying them is not very complicated, and you can learn to zip around and make complex maneuvers very quickly. A single cell Li-ion battery powers the drones, good for about 5 to 6 minutes of flight. The plain black remote controls that are included in the package have the standard controls and don’t come with any special designs.
The dueling matches using the Space Rails Quadcopter Battle Drone Set are won in 4 hits. The set boasts the extra feature of damage simulation, where the drones respond to getting hit in a variety of ways: they may wobble a bit, rotate, or flip. A cool sound effect is also triggered when the drones get hit.
At a low price, the Space Rails Quadcopter Battle Drone Set is a good introduction to the field of battle drones. The drones and the remote controls don’t look particularly impressive, but the flight experience is satisfactory enough. Participating in dog fights with your friends is a lot of fun, and this drone package definitely delivers in the entertainment factor.
Propel Star Wars Drones
The Propel product line of Star Wars drones comes in 3 models: : The Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Starfighter, the Star Wars TIE Advanced XI , and the Star Wars 74-Z Speeder Bike. The drones, as well as the packaging, are outright works of art. Each one is immaculately detailed and hand-painted, and even shows the wear and tear of years of battles. Two (2) options of technology are available for dueling: infrared and visible laser light. Although infrared is more widely used, battling using visible lasers can look really cool in a fog-filled, dark room.
Each package, which retails at $179, comes with a collector-grade packaging, equally beautiful controllers, 6 replacement parts of each propeller type, and 2 sets of Li-Po batteries. Drones are bought separately, so you might have to look for a friend who owns one of these drones before you can start a duel. Every effort has been made to design the drones faithfully to the source material. The transparent propellers are located on the underside of the drone, and the battery packs are integrated into the design.
The size of the drones (barely the size of your hand) along with the top speeds it can reach (about 35 mph) and the reverse propulsion mechanism makes flying the Star Wars drones quite challenging. Propel seemed to have anticipate this challenge, and released a training module that can be accessed via the Propel Star Wars Battle Drones mobile app. During the actual flight of the drone, 3 modes can be implemented depending on your level of proficiency for flying.
Using the same app, your performance during battle can be monitored through your smart phone, which conveniently snaps into the remote control. The app automatically determines the winning pilot or the winning team. A maximum of 12 players can play together, and Propel’s proprietary Intelligent Awareness Technology promises latency-free communications between drone and transmitter. Your scores during battles can be uploaded to worldwide leader boards so you can see how you stack with the other pilots.
Propel pulled out all the stops in making sure that flying their drones is a fulfilling experience for hardcore Star Wars fans. Even the act of unboxing these drones trigger Star Wars-themed music and audio clips. The remote controls come in the colors of the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance depending on the drone, with the insignia of each faction serving as the power button. During flight, the transmitted emits Star Wars-themed audio such as music, sound effects, and dialogue.
The battle system of the Propel Star Wars drones probably represents the pinnacle of the battle drone experience as we know it today. Players get hit 3 times before they are eliminated from the round, and the mobile app gleefully exploits this by suggesting that you attack the drone with the least lives left.
The Propel Star Wars drones are probably the best battle drones currently in the market. However, they have a steep price tag which may not be attractive for beginners. For seasoned drone flyers and hardcore Star Wars fans, it does not get any better than the Propel lineup of Star Wars drones.