You may see these three letters all the time these days but you may not know what it really means. What FPV means is “First Person View” which means a video camera is mounted on the vehicle and broadcasts the live video to the pilot on the ground so the pilot is flying the aircraft as if he/she was onboard the aircraft instead of looking at the craft from the pilot’s actual ground position. FPV allows you to fly much higher and further than you can from the looking at the aircraft from the ground. FPV control allows for more precise flying around obstacles especially with vehicles like quadcopters which can easily fly indoors and through forests via FPV where you wouldn’t be able to see obstacles from a fixed position.
Is FPV for you?
To be honest, I have never cared about FPV systems before getting involved with quadcopters and their ability to be used for a wide variety of aerial photography, an FPV system can ensure that you are getting the shot you intended without trying to guess at the shot setup from a position on the ground and some distance away.
For other people, they simply enjoy the feeling of flying that you can get without even leaving your seat. With current systems, lightweight goggles provide a truly immersive experience. Whether any of this appeals to you is really dependent on your own personality and how you want to fly your bird.
Getting Started with FPV
If you decided on a Parrot AR Drone as one of your quadcopter fleet, then you already have FPV! The front facing camera on the AR Drone serves dual purpose – it shows you, on your tablet or phone, what the drone sees AND it has the ability to record it to a file for later viewing.
Most of the camera setups on modern quadcopters and multirotors only serve a single function – to record video or stills. You don’t get to see what the drone sees until it lands and you download the digital files.
FPV can be rather technical because in most cases it actually requires a separate camera from your “recording” one and also an additional transmitter and receiver to send the view to a screen or googles. Yes, many FPV setups use googles which display what the drone sees in the lenses!
This often means that the operator is not watching the actual flight of the drone from the ground, but rather is guiding it based on what the drone itself sees! Some setups use a screen instead of googles, so that you can also follow the flight path from the ground.
We will be adding more content on FPV as the newer products hit the market, but for now here are two videos which should give you an idea of how some of the FPV setups work!
This next video you will notice that the guy is flying the Quadcopter without looking at it!
This shows the state of the art in 2013 in FPV as well as onboard quadcopter video