I recently had the opportunity to take the Zephyr flight simulator for a test drive, and came away saying, “what fun!” As a self-proclaimed non-expert drone pilot, I jumped in at the very basic level, and was pleasantly surprised with how the tasks started out by leading me through basic terms and skills, each task building on the previous. The tasks are designed to be challenging yet achievable, which provides the element of fun!
Also adding to the level of fun was the fact that I could take bigger “risks” and fly a little more boldly than I normally would, without having to think about the possibility of expensive or dangerous crashes.
The simulator comes with a variety of built-in “drones” to choose from, including: DJI Phantom 3, DJI Inspire 1, 3DR Solo, Syma X5C, Autel X-Star, Parrot Bebop 2, and DJI Mavic. These drones can be flown with keyboard controls, or with an external controller. The external controller is obviously preferable, as it translates the learned skills to real flight much more accurately.
The training levels logically build upon previous skills, and cover all kinds of skills necessary to become an accomplished drone pilot. The simulator also comes with a variety of scenarios, similar to common scenarios that everyday pilots would encounter in real flight situations.
You can also turn on weather conditions to see what it would be like to fly in inclement weather. One point here is that the weather only affects visuals, and doesn’t affect flight, although wind effects to work against can be turned on and off. Graphics and effects are satisfactory, and graphic quality can be selected according to the processing speed of your computer, so if you have a slower machine, you can still have a real-time flight experience by selecting lower quality graphics. The highest quality graphics are really clear, giving a true approximation of real flight, everything that you would hope for in a simulator.
Though I was testing the simulator as an individual user, Zephyr is also designed to be used as a classroom tool, with a complex learning management system integrated into the program. In this set-up, an instructor can select tasks to be completed, set deadlines and objectives, and determine which criteria are reported and rated. Once the student has completed the assignment, a full report of the flight is sent to the instructor for review. This learning management system is a great method of controlled and monitored flight instruction, perfect for institutions of all sizes.
The flight simulator is available for sale at zephyr-sim.com. Professional Licenses designed for Individual Drone Operators are currently available at the discounted rate of $99. To learn more about Enterprise Licenses designed for Training Academies and Schools, contact Little Arms Studios at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on pricing.
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