DroneTopolis AR is the most immersive and realistic drone simulator app on the app store. It uses augmented reality (iOS11’s ARKit) to fly a virtual drone everywhere you are. You can now use this app to fly a drone in the real world, within a realistic environment, rather than a virtual 3D scene. According to the official website, DroneTopolis AR is tuned to match the flight characteristic as the current DJI Phantom 4 drone.
This is how the DJI Phantom 4 drone looks like in real life.
I’ve planned to review this app for quite some time but had quite a few other apps listed prior to this one. Today I also came across a brand new app called AR Drone Training Lite, which is a much more simple drone augmented reality flight simulator compared to Drontopolis AR. Anyways, you can check it out if you are into these type of flight simulation AR apps.
Here is me trying to fly a drone for the very first time in augmented reality.
About Dronetopolis AR
Dronetopolis AR features realistic controls. It allows you to practice and improve your drone flying skills thought free flight or various campaign modes. It also comes with a built-in camera app which allows you to record and stream footage of your drone antics to the world.
When you start the app you’ll have to choose between “Pilot Training”, “Free Fly” or “Helipad Hop”. The first one lets you practice fly patterns to improve your skills, including Bank R and L, FWD Noose Out, Box Nose In, Circle, etc. The second is a free flight mode in which you need (although optional) to pass through mid-air floating rings. The last one allows you to practice landing, where you need to fly the drone and land on helipads spread throughout the environment
The UI is simple and many parts of it are just there to mimic standard controls that you have with real drone apps.
The app also allows you to customize various attributes like the rotor’s speed, drone’s volume, enable or disable trails and set their length and color, etc.
I have to admit that I didn’t expect the flight controls to be so cumbersome. However, it wasn’t the app’s fault. You have two main controls, on the left, you have the joystick that controls the height and the orientation of the drone, and on the right side, you have the joystick that moves the drone to a certain direction.
The main problem is that you don’t fly the drone in the first-person perspective, so when you change its orientation, you need to remember where the front is facing so you can maneuver it properly with the right joystick. This is why it’s so confusing and this is why you need an app like this to help you to improve those type of drone flight skills.
After about half an hour with this app, I start getting used to it. There are various training sections that will help you improve your control of the drone in various situations that are also relevant to flying real drones. Of course, it would be much easier if I had a virtual camera mounted on the drone so I can see where the drone is facing and what it’s recording, but because it’s a virtual drone and not a real one, this feature is out of the question.
No doubt that DroneTopolis can help improve the skills requires flying a real drone and you will be able to achieve more professional results once you get your hands on a real drone.
With DroneTopolis, you don’t need to worry about the weather or causing any damage to it, because it’s all virtual. This is why this app is so valuable to those who intend to capture beautiful scenes with real drones. Instead of practicing with a real equipment, they can practice using this app instead. Now, I’ve never had a chance to fly a real drone, so my experience ends up with this app only. However, after reading the Press Kit on dronetopolisar.com, a professional drone photographer and filmmaker, Taylor Moore, mentioned that this app helps improve ones controls with a real drone (quote from the press kit: “Flying in DroneTopolis AR will greatly improve your ability to judge speed, distances and drone orientation and proximity much more accurately when filming on location with your own drone.”).
It’s great having the option to fly a virtual drone regardless of the time, weather and other external factors that do influence your decision whether to fly your real drone.
DroneTopolis AR uses Apple ARKit technology to make it all happen. This results in an accurate tracking that leads to a very precise flight control of the drone.
I really enjoyed flying a virtual drone. I always wanted to try it myself but didn’t have a chance to try it in real life. This is the closest that I’ve got and once I’ve tried it, I can’t wait to try to fly a real drone. The best part of flying a real drone is that you can capture some amazing aerial scenes, what you obviously can’t do with this app.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience, but obviously, I am not the target audience that this app is made for. I personally would like to have a multiplayer action drone flight game, not a simulator, but I definitely learned something about flying drones after using this app for more than an hour in the park.
I’ve also tried it in the backyard and in the house, but this wasn’t fun as flying the virtual drone in a large open area outdoors.
Dronetopolis AR is by far the most authentic drone flight simulator app on the App Store. There are more casual ones out there, but if you are into practicing your drone flight skills, there is no better app than DroneTopolis AR to achieve this. It features unique practicing sessions that focus on certain flight maneuver skills, something that no other drone flight app that I previously tried offers.
If you are interested in improving your drone flight skills using “dry” practice without risking anything, this is the best way to go.
You can download Dronetopolis from the App Store here.