While drones are a new technology, the amount of things you can do with them far exceeds their age.
As an avid flyer, I’m not immune to getting bored now and again when my current drone obsession starts to burn out. When this happens, I go straight to my favorite drone forums to look up cool new things to do with my drone.
For those new to flying, it could be as simple as learning new piloting techniques to help grow your skill, but for you more advanced owners you’ll likely be looking for something with a bit more spice.
If you’re tired of running the same laps with your drone or find your video and photography content growing stagnant, then read on.
I’m going to cover 29 different things and ways to use your drones, from personal to professional applications. I’ll cover tips and tricks for beginners, as well as cool new technology more advanced pilots should have on their radars.
Drones for Personal Use
There are all types of things to do flying a drone as a hobby. Here’s a list of the best.
1. Get very good at flying a drone (which is in itself a fun thing to do with a drone)
Flying a drone is fun – it’s that simple. One of the best things about having a drone is flying a drone and getting better and better at it.
The best way to get good at flying is to fly often. You’ll soon get the hang of it and be able to move on to doing tricks like flips.
You can get a good quality drone for a low price too, thanks to companies like DJI and Parrot.
2. Stand on a drone and fly
You can get a drone like the Skysurfer Aircraft, that will allow you to actually fly in real life.
Given enough motors, a drone can easily carry your weight.
Once that obstacle is met, you can take to the sky. It’s a technical challenge. It’s not quite like Back to the Future’s hoverboards but still offers a thrill you can’t get from anything else at the moment.
The Skysurfer Aircraft can fly faster than 50 mph and has propellers that can break the speed of sound. Just make sure you wear protective gear.
3. Take the most stylish selfies you’ve ever taken
The selfies you can take with drones are just brilliant.
You would need a camera team and expensive kit to get the same shots without a drone. Many drones come pre-programmed with the ability to take a range of different selfies.
Different brands and models have different modes.
On a number of DJI drones you have ‘circle’, which allows your drone to circle around you at the height you choose, keeping you in the center.
‘Rocket’ puts you in the center but flies straight up, and ‘boomerang’ flies off into the distance in a circular motion, then comes back up close like a boomerang.
Read more on the best camera drones
4. Learn to program
You can use a drone to learn to code.
The child-friendly Scratch programming language is very popular in drones that you can program, along with Python for more advanced or mature learners.
It makes coding so much more tangible to have a robot perform your instructions.
For example, the DJI Robomaster S1 is a ground drone designed to teach you to code as well as engineering.
Programming a drone is a great way to bring children into the world of technology.
The DJI Robomaster comes with the additional attraction of an annual global robotics competition, so there’s no limit to how deep you can follow this interest.
5. Join a drone flying club in your local area
Join the drone-flying community and find people who you can share your passion with and learn from.
The community is welcoming and ready to help with your development, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. Find your nearest event on MeetUp.
6. Join a drone racing league
Race against others if you want a challenge.
Be warned: the skill level needed to fly a racing drone is higher than that for a camera drone because racing drones are faster and the controls are more responsive, but there lies the challenge.
Drone racing is a great way to indulge your competitive spirit.
It’s a great way to get involved with the community and it’s another area you can take as far as you like, from casual interest to qualifying for televised drone racing.
Read more on the top racing drones
7. Create a DIY obstacle course
Get your hands dirty and build yourself your own obstacle course. It can be done with stuff you have lying around the house. Get creative!
You can do it indoors or outdoors depending on the drone and it is a fun activity to get children involved in or anyone else who’s skeptical about whether drones are fun.
8. Help locate lost pets
Cover large areas quickly while time is of the essence.
Combining a ground search party, especially with people who know the behavior of the pets, with a drone high in the sky is a very efficient way of finding missing pets.
If your drone pilot locates the pet or anything that may look like the pet, they can direct the ground search party there to collect it.
9. Create a DIY drone
Putting together a working DIY drone is a great learning activity you can engage in with children.
Older children can do the soldering themselves.
Helping the children understand how all the parts work and fit together – the frame, propellers, motors, batteries, the power distribution board, the flight controller, the RC receiver, etc – will do wonders for their understanding of machines and engineering concepts.
10. Volunteer to collect scientific survey data
There are plenty of organizations, researchers, and universities that may need the data you can collect with your drone but don’t have the expertise to collect it themselves.
Helping them reach their goals can be a worthwhile way to use your drone if you believe in the goal.
Get information from them about the area they need surveying and their data requirements and also make sure your drone is equipped to provide them with that information, then you’re good to go.
11. Take aerial photos and videos of your hikes
Bring your drone hiking with you and capture your hike from an incredible angle.
A drone with basic tracking is enough to get some memorable photos and videos when there’s a lot of space to maneuver.
If you’re going somewhere more congested, like the woods, some drones have impressive ‘follow me’ features, using sensors to track you and avoid obstacles on their own, so you don’t even need to fly them.
Most of us can’t affordably get these images any other way.
12. Take your drone with you on your travels
Compact drones are excellent travel companions.
Not only are they fun to fly in new locations but they will give you photos and videos that your camera just cannot compete with.
You can explore areas you can’t reach on foot and get a much richer understanding of where you are. In that way, it can extend your experience of your destination and truly add something unique to your trip.
13. Film your athletic pursuits
Drones can help you train smarter.
Filming yourself doing water sports or mountain biking are cool things to do with your drone, yes, but observing yourself training has always been a key tool for the dedicated athlete.
But you don’t always have a mirror or a friend with a camera phone available.
However, with a drone (with tracking abilities), even solo athletes can record themselves to watch back and learn from.
Drones provide a hands-free assistant to film you so you can study yourself, whether boxing, running, cycling, or any number of other sports.
14. Use your drone in home maintenance
How is your roof getting on? You don’t know, do you? And yet roofs are a huge problem when they go wrong, which happens to every roof eventually.
Use your drone to inspect the state of your roof. Fix problems as they arise rather than once they’ve become too big to ignore any longer.
15. Create a 3D map of your property and get it 3D-printed
With a drone, you can get a 3D model of your own home on a computer and then go on to get it 3D printed.
Decorating a 3D model of your house is a cool thing to do with a drone that can be a fun art project for you or any children in your household.
Read more about drone mapping software
Drones for Professional Use
You can earn a living with your drone. Depending on your job, drone piloting can offer you a career change or it can help you to do your current work tasks better.
16. Create aerial photo and video content for social media marketing
Grow your followers by adding a new aerial dimension to your content creation with your drone.
Drones have great cameras these days and some can do things like time-lapse videos, which are guaranteed to bring your content to the next level visually.
You’ll find plenty of inspiration for what to do in what’s already out there, but there’s plenty of room to bring your own signature touch to your visual content.
Using a drone for agriculture is a huge time-saver (and therefore money-saver).
Agriculture drones can spray fertilizer, herbicide, fungicide, pesticide, seeds, and desiccants, but can do so precisely, reducing the labor intensity of your fields.
They can also map and monitor your crops.
You can use RGB images to help you monitor your crops over time, or Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) maps.
The reflection of infrared light is a measure of malnourishment and drought, so you can stay on top of the health of your crops with your drone.
Read more about drones in other industries
Survey your stocks, identify and tackle hazards, plan your operations, explore new terrain and monitor your mine over time. But do these with a drone to make your work a lot more efficient.
Enterprise drones have been designed that can save you a lot of time and provide great data to work with back in the office. You can even get the drone to survey the area itself.
19. Drone delivery
Drone delivery offers new options to organizations to increase access to their goods for consumers, and we’re not only talking about faster Amazon deliveries.
Zipline in Rwanda, for example, has created a drone delivery service for pharmaceutical goods.
They can deliver things like life-saving emergency blood supplies to remote rural areas during the rainy season when rural paths become waterlogged and can’t be traversed by SUVs in incredibly short time frames.
20. Wildlife monitoring
Monitoring wildlife, poachers and endangered species is an incredibly difficult process that drones make easier.
To do it effectively you need to cover vast areas of land.
Drones, however, can cover great distances easily and use far-seeing cameras to scope out where to investigate. They can also provide accurate data for monitoring and study.
21. Environmental monitoring
From oil spills to forest fires, drones are well-equipped to help you meet your monitoring responsibilities, providing better data and reaching areas that humans cannot go.
Drones can be deployed consistently to observe progress over time, even on an hourly basis if needs be.
Climate change is making environmental hazards more frequent and so drones are a good tool to aid us in managing their impact.
22. Search and rescue
Drones save lives when used for search and rescue.
They can cross terrain faster than motor vehicles (that must stick to the road and are difficult to use on off-road paths) and are far less expensive to deploy than helicopters.
Thermal cameras can locate injured or lost people faster than with the human eye alone. If hiking to a person in distress is required, drones can help you plan your path.
23. Professional photography and videography
Starting a freelance aerial photography and videography business is a great way of using drones to make money.
Flying drones for money as a drone photographer or videographer can make you between $27,000 and $55,000 a year on average.
You can also add drone photography and videography as a service to an existing photography business. Imagine what aerial photography can add to the wedding photos you take, for example?
24. Become a professional drone racer
Drone racing is an elite sport where the best pilots can do very well financially from prize money and sponsorship. Youth is not a barrier either.
The British teen Luke Bannister (a.k.a. BANNI-UK) was only 15 years old when he beat 150 drone teams to win the Dubai World Drone Prix and $250,000 in prize money.
Firefighters are now using drones to survey fires and develop tactics to address them, light dark areas with spotlights, and guide the public with loudspeakers.
Each of these would take at least one firefighter, perhaps more.
Instead, one drone operator is able to deploy themselves flexibly across the site as needed. The drone is a key part of the team. There are even some drone designs that can directly put out fires with a hose.
26. Aerial surveying for maps
Getting the data from a new area you want to survey directly on your computer without having to do the manual work to collect it is an immense positive.
You can then put all your limited time into analyzing it.
Increase the accuracy (we’re talking a few centimeters) by using ground control points if you want but this depends on how accurate you need to be.
A drone can deliver elevation models, 2D maps, 3D maps, LiDAR maps (useful for seeing through foliage used by archaeologists, foresters, agriculturalists, and geologists), and more.
27. Police and law enforcement
Drones are a crucial element of law enforcement and allow them to:
- Find missing persons and suspects
- Photograph and make videos of crime scenes from above
- Make 3D models of crime scenes
- Provide lighting at night at crime scenes
- Assess road accidents
- Assist in observing traffic to manage its flow
- Assist the fire department to tackle a blaze if the fire department doesn’t have a drone of its own
28. Live stream footage during special events
It’s great to be physically at a concert or other type of performance but the audience’s viewpoint is not always the best for people at home watching on TV or online.
Drones can find the best distance and height to bring viewers in on the action.
When the best vantage point changes, drones can move freely and easily to adjust as well.
29. Inspect clients’ roofs and gutters for damage
A roof inspector is not required to walk on a roof in order to inspect it.
Roof inspectors can use drones to conduct inspections and document the condition of roofs with photos.
Even if you do walk the roof, as a roof inspector, you will from time to time want to inspect the roof from below where it is too high to do effectively from the ground and too dangerous to do from above while standing on the roof.
Drones are excellent in situations like these and in reaching other hard-to-access places. They can really help you provide a rigorous service and document your work to a very high standard.
FAQ’s About Things to Do With Your Drone
Other articles you may be interested in: