Got To Go Fast: The Rise Of Super-Fast FPV Drones

Fastest FPV drone, pending official confirmation. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)

Generally when one considers quadcopter drones, the term ‘fast’ doesn’t come to mind, but with the rise of FPV  (First Person View) drones, they have increasingly been designed to go as fast as possible. This can be for competitive reasons, to dodge enemy fire on a battlefield, or in the case of [Luke Maximo Bell] to break the world speed record. Over the course of months he set out to design the fastest FPV drone, involving multiple prototypes, many test runs and one failed official speed run.

The components of the third FPV drone attempt, as used with the world record attempt. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)
The components of the third FPV drone attempt, as used with the world record attempt. (Credit: Luke Maximo Bell)

The basic design of these designed-for-speed FPV drones is more reminiscent of a rocket than a quadcopter, with the upside-down propellers  requiring the operator first lifting the drone into the air from an elevated position. After this the drone transitions into a level flight profile by rotating with the propellers pointing to the back. This gives the maximum thrust, while the body provides lift.

Although this seems simple, flying this type of drone is very hard, as it’s hard to tell what is happening, even when landing. [Luke] ended up installing a camera in the nose which can rotate to provide him with different angles. Tweaking the flight computer to deal with the control issues that occur at speeds above 300 km/h.

Yet in September of 2023 he managed to pull off four solid passes, reaching an average speed of 397 km/h (214 nm/h) and a top speed of 401 km/h. Although still to be confirmed by Guinness World Records, it’s a major achievement, even if it didn’t get as much attention as a recent FPV drone shown off by Red Bull when it raced against a Formula 1 car at a paltry 350 km/h. The Red Bull drone by the [Dutch Drone Gods] was designed to handle following the F1 car even around corners, not just straight laps, but considering the resources that [Luke] had at his disposal versus the Red Bull team, it seems fair to say that he did a marvelous job, and we’re awaiting the outcome of the Guinness submission with bated breath.

Thanks to [Keith Olsen] for the tip.

27 thoughts on “Got To Go Fast: The Rise Of Super-Fast FPV Drones

    1. No it couldn’t dude this comment should be taken down. Negative nancy. Thing is it wont be in the wrong hands because you have to know how to build tune and do all of that stuff. For example ive road street bikes go 200mph all the time. Never wrecked never hurt no one nothing has every happened except some ppl getting their feelings hurt. Things like this 100% should be allowed. Its stuff like this that keeps young men building and being outside and adventurous rather then getting into trouble doing drugs or other negative things. This hobby is the safest kick ass hobby their is!

      1. pretending off the shelf drones cans easily be modded to cause damage is the most foolish and quickest was all drones get taken away. dealing with reality honestly and openly is the only way to can make positive change

        1. Tell it to the Ukrainians.

          That ship has sailed.

          Large off the shelf drones carry grenades every day. Not the one in TFA.

          The same thing that prevents me from building a machine gun prevents me from arming a drone.
          Fear of 10 years federal. Both are _easy_ and potentially lots of fun. Just not 10 years federal time fun.
          Honest: That and ammo costs…An afternoon of casual bump firing costs plenty, even without counting the price of Tequila and Tannerite. I digress.

          The best use of drones today: Take controllers for now broken RC toys. New batteries. Take to VVIP outdoor political event. Turn on. Drop in trash. Walk away. Repeat…Bonus points: 555 based power off/on cycle. Make it look like frequency hopping to the paranoid.

          Imagine Vermin Supreme’s SDP (secret dental police) security detail reacting to the ECM alert. Likely clear a path through the crush with giant toothbrushes. The great man rides away safely, fast as a pony can run. Everybody claps.

        2. Pretending that off the shelf drones are perfectly safe for absolutely anyone to operate anywhere is what is foolish and naive.

          People are selfish, stupid, lazy, and will absolutely hurt themselves or others with things because they can’t “play nice”.

          Obviously not everyone.
          But even a small number is a problem.

          This particular drone is more like an electrically powered guided rocket than a standard quadcopter.

    1. With no warhead and a fraction of the speed?

      Just about any man portable missile, especially with such a guidance system, will be built to move much quicker.

      Maybe it’s the limitations of batteries vs check propellant. Losing weight really does help with the ticket equation.

        1. You clearly have no idea what the cost, size, range and speed of a hellfire is (switchblade type of not).

          Which isn’t to say there a no possible use cases for something like this. But most of those would be better served with a gun.

  1. Jesus! Almost 10kw bursts coming from those lipos! And I thought I was hot $%^# back in 2016 when I was peaking at 1500W on a similar sized drone which at the time had a insane power to weight ratio! Unbelievable how fast the hobby has progressed. I have been into electric flight since before the “rise of the drones”. Built my first flight controllers with an arduino and a gyro from a nintendo wiii controller. An open source firmware project called multiwii was created to do just this. Im willing to bet that he is using betaflight firmware or a derivitive on his flight controller.

  2. “design of these designed-for-speed FPV drones is more reminiscent of a rocket than a quadcopter”

    No, the design is basically a fixed wing, which can fly at those speeds with near same agility at that size.

    1. Easier said than done. Referring to the F1 chase drone, I don’t think a fixed wing could fly that with such grace and stability. As a person who flys both, I think the reason is this: FPV drones are heavy and dense, with insane thrust. This plus lack of lift surfaces causes them to be relatively insensitive to the wind. A fixed wing on the other hand would be hitting tons of chop in the wake of that car. The turns would also be quite harrowing in a fixed wing.

  3. Not saying this wasn’t/is a fun project. But it is things like this that help the FAA to keep clamping down on our wonderful hobby (R/C flying in line-of-sight without FPV) . Like the most recent thing is have a transponder on your drone/aircraft/helicopter/etc. Yes, we applied (more stupid paperwork) for a FRIA and got it for our field so we don’t have to buy transponders. Fine.. But, still a pain in the … when all we want to do is fly around the patch once in a while. … Like guns, the trouble makers don’t care about the laws/regulations in place, but we have to…. grrrrr….

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