Why dont drones return automaticly like sensor probes?

Is there a setting to make drones auto return to the bay when a jump is selected? If not why? Sensor probes can do it and they travel many AU away and always return when you jump.


No, that’s what the return to drone bay button is for. If you forget your drones, don’t worry. It’ll soon become second nature soon enough to retrieve your drones or when you start hating the fact that you have to rebuy lost drones.

Probes are different, it would be impractical to have players search multiple AUs to get probes/or be stuck in a wh (for example) without them.


Scan probes have a way to enter warp or otherwise cover multiple AUs very fast. This is not the case for drones. When you jump, and your drones are multiple AUs away, they have no way to reach you. Nor are they equipped with anything that would allow them to find you since their communication range rarely goes above 100km.

In fact, even if you were to issue the “return to drone bay” command immediately after sending a warp (not jump, warp!) command, you can often warp off before the drones reach you as you align faster than they need.

An automatic “return to bay” when initiating a warp could be nice for larger ships that are slower to enter warp, though, but it would be mostly useless on small ships. Worth it? Maybe… it does seem like fairly basic behaviour to have.


As I recall, shift + R is the hotkey to return your drones to bay.

Drones not returning to bay automatically isn’t a bad thing; a flight of light ECM drones is easily replaceable, and just might help you escape a tight situation.


That is true… if they are recalled every time you spam warp, they won’t do their job and you won’t actually warp.

So this is probably best left alone!


Scan probes control range is system wide, in terms of AUs(some systems are 100s of AU wide). They work outside of your overview range with super fast warp speed(much much faster than any ship), thus able to catch up any ships traveling in warp speed.

On the other hand, combat drones control (recallable) range is 250km. They work within overview range, and you can disconnect them and lunch new set. Additionally, they can’t even catch up cruiser or smaller ship with MWD on, let alone warping. So auto recall does not work with combat drone physical limitation.


Aside from the points mentioned above:

  1. You’d be depriving many a newbie a source of income scanning down lost drones.

  2. In PvP fights, forcing a drone boat through a gate or wormhole and having them leave their drones behind is good tactic to reduce their dps.

  3. Just press shift-R and wait… You used to have to manually recall probes as well, but CCP decided to dumb down scanning a few years back, let’s not dumb down the game even more.


You start the encounter. Launch drones. Drones run off to kill “things”. You d-scan and see a fleet. You attempt to warp because you know you cant take this fight. But you cant warp. Your drones are still space chugging back to the drone bay. Finally they make it. They are all nestled inside the bay and you are now ready to warp. But for some reason you cannot. Oh, now you see. While waiting for your drones to return the fleet landed and now you’re stuck in a bubble. At least my drones are safe you think to yourself as your ship explodes and pod goo is ejected all over everyone face.



Maybe it’s an anti botting thing.

Okay I’ll try the fast key shift+R, at least that is faster then hunting and picking on the menu.


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It used to be like that before though, so drones would act as sensor probes, or rather, Core Scanner Probe, would…
Only more recently do Core Scanner Probe automatically return to a ship’s cargo hold.


Another idea from a drones pilot.

  1. press key to recall drones, I reset mine to be “r” instead of shift+r because it is even easier.
  2. tell ship to align to target destination
    In the vast majority of cases your drones will be back in the bay by time you are aligned and ready to warp, unless you are one of those who likes to send drones 30 k or more away.

With sentry drones you need to be careful because they cannot and will not return to bay if you are more than 2,500 meters from them. Yes it is possible that when recalling sentries one or more will be left in space because you were more than 2,500 meters from them, simply moving back into range should allow them to recall without having to re-issue the recall command.


They don’t automatically return because they are weapons.

And one of the most effective ways to deal with a drone boat is to kill the drones, then the drone boat has no teeth.

So the developers wanted you to be forced to make a choice: either take the time to call the drones in (and risk the enemy arriving and trapping your ship), or if you need to urgently leave the area, leave the drones behind.

As the others have said, you can set up a keyboard shortcut for “drones return to drone bay”, and there’s also the option of returning up to 2 hours later and re-connecting to the drones / getting them back, but ultimately the devs wanted a choice to be made, esp. when there’s an enemy hunting you and you’re trying to get away fast.


I feel that is important to mention that historically the old fighters (Drones for Carriers and Super Carriers) were not only able to follow their capital ship but targets as well. While it might sound cool being to be able to launch fighters, send them after a target and then stay in your position while they warp around the system slowly killing their target.

The reality was not so enjoyable. There were instances of people with carriers in or near a POS shield, who would assign their fighters to smaller cheaper ships such as Sabres who could then camp gates with stupidly high fire power. you might see someone in a combat sites in low/null security space in essentially a through away isk with the firepower of multiple fighter/fighter bombers and that was well, overpowered.

It is better to leave drones as a local weapon, it means (among other things)

  • Drone pilots have to control their drones they can’t put in very little effort to get Isk
  • In combat situations, pilots may have to choose do they save their ship or try and save their drones
  • New pilots have a nice isk source as mentioned above. - You should try and follow an incursion fleet around. Sometimes the fleet might leave over 100 million isk in drones behind by mistake
  • Creates a better balance between ships

Get in the habit of aligning to your next warp point, and pressing Shift+R. Once it becomes second nature, you won’t leave too many drones behind :slight_smile:


Sensor probes don’t return automatically neither. They return when called back and they have almost instant travel time but it is travel time.

Drones return when called back and jump right back in the bay when told.

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