The Best Drone with Wheels: Ground Drones Taking the World By Storm
When you picture a drone, what do you see? Most of us almost always imagine a flying machine zipping around in the skies, taking great selfies. For most drones available in the market today, that would be an accurate view.
But there is also a category of drones that have wheels as well – ground drones. These drones have the added ability to roll and drive around in the ground, giving them the utmost in flexibility and versatility.
So today, we’re taking a look at these drones on wheels, what they can do, and how you can find the best one. We also include a few of our ground drone recommendations to help you further.
The Best Drones with Wheels (Ground Drones)
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The JJRC H23 is a hybrid ground and aerial drone. It’s mostly a remote-controlled car with a propeller located on top of each of its four wheels.
- Flight Time: 8 minutes
- Range: 200m
- Camera: 720p HD camera
- Charge Time: 60 minutes
- Weight: 635 grams
- Dimensions: 23.5 x 23.5 x 6.5 cm
You can then easily switch between ground and flight mode via the remote controller provided.
While in flight mode, it works just like any beginner drone. It can hover stably in place. It doesn’t hold well against stronger winds, however. In our experience, this is best used as an indoor drone if you want to use its flight mode.
Flying the drone does take a bit of practice, though. While it has a built-in 6-axis gyro system for stability, the controls can still feel sensitive that gaining control over flight make take a few tries.
Ground mode works just as well, turning it into your conventional RC car. Controls are pretty basic – just forward/back and right and left turns, all achievable through the pair of joysticks on the controller.
On top of its basic controls, it also has some features that are pretty standard among drones. One example is the One Key Return Home button. It allows you to instantly recall the drone back to its starting point at the push of a button. For a beginner drone, we like this feature because it lessens the chance of the drone getting lost.
A nice feature of the H23 is the FPV mode, thanks to the installed 720p camera. Not bad for a ground drone that costs below $50.
Overall, the JJRC H23 is a decent ground hybrid drone. We find that it flies better than it drives on the ground, thanks to a few helpful features along the way.
The Syma X9 is the first-ever hybrid offering from this budget-level manufacturer. Known for their affordable toy drones, they have extended their expertise into this air and ground model.
- Battery Life: 8 minutes (16 minutes total with spare)
- Camera: None
- Weight: 512 grams
- Dimensions: 2 x 1 x 4 inches
Right off the bat, what got our attention is the substantial remote controller. It feels “grown-up” and hefty on the hand, although the plastic construction is less than stellar. It does have a small screen where you can check on the drone’s stats, so that’s a plus.
The X9 itself is pretty light, and we got an initial impression that it was made of cheap plastics. We didn’t have high hopes for its longevity, but surprisingly it lasts longer than it looks. It’s pretty durable and was able to survive a few crashes when my son took it out for a spin.
X9 uses the tried and tested hybrid configuration – a propeller on top of each of the 4 wheels. We find it gives it excellent stability and maneuverability both on land and the air. This is one of those few hybrid drones that drives as well as it flies.
Despite this being a kid’s toy, we recommend you don’t leave it with them unsupervised. This is because the blades are actually larger than usual, and does hurt when it hits you. The drone also flies really high – a good thing for an adult, but potentially prone to getting lost if a kid flies it uncontrollably.
Thankfully, it has a speed switch button so you can swap between slow (great for beginners) and fast (fantastic for adults like you!) modes.
The included battery gives a great 8-minute operating life. It even has a spare included, so you can effectively enjoy it twice as long.
Overall, the X9 is a good entry-level drone for kids and beginners. The added ground feature is a nice touch and is useful if you want to practice both skills with one unit.
The Robomaster S1 is an incredibly powerful ground drone. A true masterpiece from DJI.
- Run Time: 35 minutes
- Range: 100m
- Camera: 1080p HD 120° FOV
- Weight: 3.3kg
- Dimensions: 32cm x 24cm x 27cm
This robotic experience from DJI is a truly impressive piece of kit.
There are three operational modes; Solo, Battle and Lab. These allow for exploring which is perfect for beginners, challenges against other S1s, and for trying out lots of different things with its programming features.
With two programming languages — Scratch for newbies wanting to learn, and Python for more advanced coders — you can do lots of things with this drone that can’t be done on regular quadcopters.
It’s not just a piece of nerdy kit though. Whilst it’s highly intelligent, it allows for fun too. There’s no part more obviously fun than the orange-marked blaster unit.
The DJI Robomaster S1 ground drone makes a perfect gift for both children and adults alike.
The Parrot Jumping Night Minidrone is like having your very own mechanical grasshopper. Vibrant and energetic, it runs fast and jumps just as high.
- Battery Life: 20 minutes
- Charging Time: 25 minutes for a rapid charge, 90 minutes for a standard charge
- Range: 50 meters
- Weight: 205g
- Dimensions: 7.3 x 6.1 x 4.5 inches (wheels out), 5.6 x 6.1 x 4.5 inches (wheels in)
The agile and lightweight drone has two oversized wheels that allow it to cover a lot of ground quickly. It’s like a small off-road vehicle, so the terrain it can handle is quite varied.
It can achieve speeds of 7 km/h. Thankfully, handling is tight and responsive, so you have much more control over it during high speeds.
The wheels can also be pushed back in Retracted Wheel Mode, so the drone can fit narrower areas. The default Open Wheel Mode gives you a wider frame, but this results in more stability when driving.
Apart from running, it’s also capable of jumps and aerial stunts. You can play around with any of its three modes, such as Jumper Mode, where the Jumping Night can leap as high as 75 cm in the air. Kicker Mode gives the drone some semblance of intelligence, as it attempts to kick objects out of its path.
The default is Auto-Balance Mode, where it will remain balanced on its two wheels.
This drone is an excellent toy for exploring nooks and crannies outdoors. It’s equipped with a mini camera with VGA resolution (480 x 640), which records footage and sends it directly to your smartphone.
Speaking of which, everything is controlled via the FreeFlight app on your smartphone. On-screen joysticks and buttons enable you to pilot the drone with ease.
Then you have access to pre-programmed stunts and maneuvers, which you can have the drone perform instantly. The Road Plan feature allows you to plot all the actions of your drone well in advance. You can play this sequence out right away, or save it for later use.
Overall, we love our little jumping drone. The Parrot Jumping Night Minidrone might not fly, but it’s capable of aerial and ground stunts in its own right, making it a unique experience.
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This HT Drone Car is one of the better cheap hybrid ground drones available in the market. It has a lot of features you usually see in a low end flying drone.
- Battery Life (Flight): 7 minutes
- Battery Life (Land): 10 minutes
- Range: 60m
- Camera: 720p HD camera
- Charge Time: 45 minutes
- Weight: 635 grams
- Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 2.8 inches
The HT Drone Car uses the typical hybrid design – a small wheel underneath each rotor.
On the ground, it’s just like any RC car. It’s actually pretty fast, and the handling is pretty tight. It feels nimble when you’re driving it around using the included remote controller. The wheels are also pretty durable, and it can handle outdoor terrain easily.
But where we think this drone shines is when it’s in the air. Making it fly is as simple as turning on a small switch, which enables it to fly up around 2 – 3 meters and hover in the air.
Before we got around to playing around with it, we first had to learn how to land it. Fortunately, it’s easy, and most of the hard work is done for you.
You can land the HT Drone in two ways. You can press the same switch that made it fly in the first place. It will then lower itself automatically to the ground. You can then resume to drive it around.
Alternatively, you can also make use of its One Key Return function. This works just like any Auto Return feature of most drones. One push and it will autonomously fly back to its starting point (where it first flew).
We actually like how seamless the operation is between its ground and flight modes. You can achieve impressive air-to-ground stunts with this.
The HT Drone also has a small 720p HD camera equipped. This allows you to take photos/videos and even engage in FPV mode (with VR support) while driving it around. The free app makes all of this possible, while mounted on the remote controller.
In the end, the HT Drone car is a fun and easy to use hybrid ground drone. Its host of basic features makes it suitable to be used by both kids and adults alike.
The MUKIKIM Sky Runner looks just like any other toy/hobby drone out there, only with an oversized cage. But that same cage is what gives it the ability to roll around the floor, turning it a ground drone as well.
- Battery Life: 12 minutes
- Charging Time: 60 minutes
- Range: 30 meters
- Weight: 680g
- Dimensions: 9.5 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches
As a flyer, the Sky Runner handles pretty well. It has decent maneuverability, and the responsiveness is top-notch. The included 6-axis gyro gives it a fair amount of stability, so beginners won’t struggle trying to keep it up in the air.
Let’s talk about that cage for a bit. While in flight, it acts to protect your entire drone, making it almost impervious to crashes and damage. This alone makes it a worthy addition to the Sky Runner.
But of course, it also doubles as a set of wheels. When you switch the drone over to Run Mode, it rotates this cage instead of the propellers. You can make it roll around the ground, and have it climb walls.
All of this is made possible with the professional-looking remote controller. The 2.4 GHz channel it works in gives it an effective range of around 30 meters, which is average given its price tier. The joystick feels excellent to the touch. Personally, though, the controls are a little bit sensitive, but it’s nothing you can’t get used to after a few runs.
Feature-wise, though, you won’t find much here. This is as basic as it gets, although it does them very well.
Overall, the MUKIKIM Sky Runner is an impressive ground and aerial drone to give to younger kids and adults. It’s the perfect beginner drone to help you develop and practice your skills.