With Follow Me drone technology, the UAV is programmed to automatically follow you around, giving you many opportunities to film some very unique aerial shots. It’s hands free flying and filming.
At present there are 2 types of drone Follow Me mode technology. This article presents a quick guide to follow me drone technology along with the best follow me drones on the market presently.
Drones that follow you came on the scene big time last year and the follow me innovation has continued since. Many drones with follow me GPS mode also have many other intelligent flight systems giving you even more options for filming.
Having a drone with Follow Me flight mode has many benefits including capturing great moving selfies with your loved ones and capturing your adventures in very scenic locations. We are also seeing athletes, cyclists and mountaineers using follow me GPS drones to film their activities and help improve their technique. Most of all flying using the drone Follow Me mode is great fun.
Follow Me GPS Drone Technology
Follow Me is an intelligent fight mode which turns your drone into a hands-free aerial camera crew. It puts you in the middle of your own adventure. We are now seeing 2 types of Follow Me technology in use. There is the GSC with Follow Me GPS transmitter technology and the latest using recognition software such as DJI ActiveTrack.DJI Ad
GPS Transmitter/ GSC
Many follow me mode drones use a GPS enabled device such as a mobile phone, tablet or a Ground Station Controller (GSC) along with a transmitter (wearable transmitter or mobile phone). The drone is programmed to follow the transmitter and to keep the subject in the picture at all times.
Follow me technology creates a virtual tether between the drone and a GPS-equipped mobile device which allows the drone to track you or another subject in motion. Most Follow me UAVs, can also remain stationary and track the subject by rotating, or it can move along with the subject.
Drone Follow Me Recognition Technology
The latest Phantom 4 drone from DJI uses sensor and recognition technology along with software algorithms to recognize a person or object. This ActiveTrack Follow Me technology allows the UAV to track a moving subject without a separate GPS tracker.
This software called ActiveTrack is built into the DJI Pilot App on the Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 Pro. You choose the object on screen, then fly around it at least once so that the UAV learns to recognize you. The Phantom 4 is the only drone at present using this recognition software.
Drone Follow Me Software
The software to program Follow Me is generally built into the overall drone application. DJI have their GO App. 3DR drones use their SOLO App and the Arducopter d-i-y drone uses Mission Planner software.
Other manufacturers build the follow me mode software into the Ground Station Controller (GSC) such as Walkera. With a couple of clicks you program what you want to follow or track.
The software is pretty sophisticated using algorithms and calculations to track and keep the object in view at all times. Most Follow Me applications allow you to program the gimbal and camera with pre-set flight distances, height and angles giving your video very unique cinematic perspectives.
Follow Me Distance
Each UAV manufacturer use different ranges with their follow me technology. It is probably best to keep the distance short in the beginning as you get to know your drone. If too much distance is allowed between the GSC and the transmitter, the two could lose their connection.
With DJI, drones such as the Phantom 4, the GPS is very strong at a height of 30 meters (98.4 feet) and a distance of 20 meters (66.5 feet). DJI drones can follow you at a much further distance than this.
The 3DR SOLO drone allows for a distance between the Ground Station Controller and the mobile device of up to 150 meters (492 feet). My advice is to keep the distance short in the beginning.
It is good to remember that the vast majority of Follow Me mode drones do not have object avoidance. Follow Me mode is great in wide open spaces or where there is enough space so that their is no break in the GPS signal.
Best practice is to plan your your route and be mindful or any obstacles that your drone could potentially crash into. You can also program your drone to fly above obstacles.
Nearly every drone today allows you to set a home point or a return to home function. It’s always best practice to set your home point.
Remember to keep an eye on your battery and warnings. Don’t get so carried away with follow me filming that you run low on battery power.
Best Follow Me Drones
Almost all of these drones featured below have extra intelligent flight modes such as Waypoints, Orbit, Points Of Interest which give you much more great filming angles and opportunities.
All of the drones below have tremendous gimbal and camera stabilization technologies for capturing awesome video and stills.
DJI Follow Me Drones
Mavic Pro Quadcopter: This latest drone only released at the end of September 2016 has many new Follow Me autopilot modes. The Mavic is almost pocket sized, has a 4k camera and a 4.3 mile transmission range. It also uses 4 vision sensors, high precision satellite navigation and latest flight controls systems giving it the best autopilot systems to date.
Collision Avoidance: Having great follow me modes is terrific. However, without collision avoidance you have to be constantly aware of where you are flying and filming. Otherwise you can crash very easily.
Now the Mavic Pro has 4 vision sensors telling it what’s below and in front whether you are on a cliff or in a forest. These vision sensors work indoors giving it the smoothest flying and hovering of any drone to date. Here is some of the autopilot systems.
ActiveTrack Follow Me
ActiveTrack is the intelligent technology which gives you the various autopilot modes to follow, track and film with. The Mavic Pro has the following autopilot modes.
- Spotlight – circle, follow behind or in front on an subject while stationary or moving.
- Profile – fly alongside the subject
- Trace – keep the camera targeted on the subject while the Mavic flies
- Terrain Follow Mode – Program the Mavic to fly as the same level above ground no matter what the terrain is
- TapFly – tap the screen and the Mavic will fly in the straight line you tapped in the DJI Go App
View the lowest price for the DJI Mavic Pro here. Here’s a terrific video Watching the terrific video testing the Mavic Pro Active Track Follow Me modes.
Phantom 4 Pro Quadcopter: Highlighted in the earlier video, this UAV uses the ActiveTrack recognition technology to follow and film you. This is the latest in drone Follow Me technology and we will probably see this becoming the standard. The Phantom 4 Pro has many terrific intelligent flight modes, terrific stabilization and a 4k camera.
The Phantom 4 Pro just released in November 2016 has the following follow modes;
- Active Track (Profile, Spotlight, Circle)
- Draw Waypoints
- Terrain Follow Mode
- Tripod Mode
- Gesture Mode
The Phantom 4 also has the latest collision avoidance sensors which mean that it will stop or avoid any obstacle it encounters. Without collision avoidance, if you overlook an obstacle in the follow me path, then unfortunately the mission will have an unhappy ending. The Phantom 4 Pro is the most highly advanced drone on the market for it’s price.
Now, here’s a tremendous positive use of drone Follow Me technology. Look how this athlete in the below video is benefiting from using a drone with Follow Me mode. The below video also shows you how easy it is to setup the ActiveTrack Follow Me mode on the Phantom 4.
This next video is test to see how good the Phantom 4 Active Track is at following various objects such as a car, train, person on a scooter, a beech ball and a scary spider etc. This gives you an idea of what you can film with the Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 Pro.
Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 Quadcopters: Both of these drones use the GPS on your mobile phone to pass the current location to the Ground Station Controller. The GSC uses sophisticated algorithms to calculate and fly around the UAV keeping it in frame at all times. Both the Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 are terrific drones.
One of the great features of DJI drones is that they have 4k cameras with a wide angle lens specifically designed for aerial filming. You don’t have problems with the rounded horizon or barrel fisheye effect.
Walkera Follow Me Drones
From Aerial Drone with many intelligent flight systems to racing drones, gimbals and cameras, Walkera Technology Co have a vast range.
Voyager 4 and Scout X 4 Drones: Both of these drone use the Follow Me GPS mode with Ground Station Controller. Both of these are fantastic drones.
Walkera never hold back when it comes to technology. The Voyager 4 is very similar to the DJI Inspire 1 and has some tremendous technology. The Scout X4 drone has may additional flight modes such as designated flight with 128 Waypoints, Orbit Object along with Follow Me mode.
The Voyager 4 has the following Follow Me Modes
- Altitude Hold Mode
- Circle Flight Mode
- Destination Planning Waypoint
- Fly Around Object
Yuneec Follow Me Drone
Typhoon H Multirotor: Equipped with six rotors, a 360-degree gimbal camera, retractable landing gear, many intelligent flight modes, the Typhoon H is among the best drones available today. Add-ons include a high performance collision avoidance module based on Intel® RealSense™ Technology and an advanced IR camera module.
The 360-degree gimbal with the new CGO3+ camera allows unlimited panning for breathtaking 4K videos and 12 megapixel stills. The landing gear retracts during flight to seamlessly remove itself from the shot for unobstructed views.
Follow Me Mode: There are 2 ways to setup Follow Me mode on the Typhoon H. You have the normal GPS Transmitter / GSC follow me mode.
Follow Me using Wizard Control: The Typhoon H comes with a Controller Wizard stick. This is a mini stick which you can control the drone to fly, follow and film you. The Wizard control can be used on it’s own or in conjunction with your mobile device.
The Typhoon H drone comes with many flight modes for capturing unique aerial perspectives. These new flight and image capture modes include Follow Me, Point of Interest, Orbit, Curved Cable and Journey.
The Follow Me Modes on The Yuneec H are;
- Orbit – Typhoon H flies a circular path around you, keeping the camera trained on you the whole time.
- Point of Interest – Select a subject and Typhoon H will orbit that subject autonomously.
- Curve Cable Cam – Program an invisible route for Typhoon H to fly along. Typhoon H will fly between pre-set coordinates while independently controlling camera position.
- Journey – Typhoon H will go up and out, as far as 150 feett, and capture the perfect aerial selfie.
- Follow Me / Watch Me – Follow Me ensures Typhoon H moves along with you. Watch Me tells Typhoon H to follow you while always pointing the camera at you wherever you go.
The Yuneec Typhoon H is exceptionally good value. You’re getting all the latest technology, collision avoidance, autonomous flight modes, a 4k camera and a real smooth flying experience.
Now here is a 2 terrific videos of Yuneec Typhoon H Watch Me / Follow Me technology. The Yuneec H can follow an object at up to 50 mph.
Here is the Yuneec Typhoon H tracking a motorbike. Pretty impressive.
Drones That Follow You Continued
Yuneec Breeze Follow Me Drone
The light, compact, high spec and fun drone from Yuneec was released in late 2016. It is controlled by your iOS or Android device (smartphone or tablet) using the Breeze Cam app and weighs just under 1 pound. For it’s size, it’s 4K Ultra High Definition camera films absolutely beautifully. It;s simply to fly and the Breeze is ready to go out of the box.
Featuring breathtaking 4K Ultra High Definition and ultra-clear 13 megapixel stills, Breeze is just as capable as drones twice its size. You can also enjoy a live 720 HD live stream of your flight on your smart device.
The Yuneec Breeze has 5 automated flight modes; Pilot, Selfie, Orbit, Journey, and VisionTrack.
- Follow Me mode – Very easy to setup and in Follow Me, the Yuneec Breeze uses GPS to track your movement
- Selfie Mode – Easily position Breeze to snap the perfect aerial selfie – prior flying experience not necessary
- Pilot Mode – If you desire more control, Pilot mode allows you to fly using manual control
- Orbit Mode – In Orbit mode, easily task Breeze to orbit around you or an external object
- Journey Mode – By using camera pitch to calculate the trajectory of the aircraft, Breeze will fly away from you and then back to you
This Breeze drone is very extra safety sensors built in. It has optical flow and infrared positioning sensors which allow it to hold its position both indoors and outdoors. These sensors also keep the drone very stable. In other words, this drone won’t drone no matter your environment. Additionally, there is an auto-landing and auto return-to-home feature – no flight experience is necessary.
The Yuneec is absolutely fantastic. It compact, easy to fly and great fun. It is also a pretty quiet drone.
Hexo+ Follow Me Drone
The Hexo+ is super cool drone. It was designed specifically to follow and film you using only your smartphone. No remote control required. Follow me flight only takes a couple of taps in the software. Best of all, you get a terrific choice of follow me flight options such as
- Follow – Far Away or close
- Hover – High or close
- 360 Degrees – Far away or close
- Slide Sideways – From left or right
- Slide In – Towards Me
- Slide Out – From Me
You can also fly the Hexo+ with a mobile device acting like a magic wand. Pretty cool indeed.
AirDog Auto Follow Me Drone
The AirDog is a small, fast, agile and foldable quadcopter specifically designed for filmmakers and action sports enthusiasts who use GoPro cameras. It is waterproof, tough and ultra reliable.
Setting up Follow Me mode is very simple. It is programmed from the wearable wrist device called the AirLeash. AirDog takes off, follows and lands autonomously. You can make altitude, distance and angle adjustments easily while the AirDog is flying. There is also a Smartphone App where various flight modes can be adjusted or new flight modes can be downloaded and programmed.
While this drone may not look as elegant as some of the others, it does what it is designed to do extremely well. The engineers over at AirDog worked with athletes from many sports to create various sports modes such as Wakeboard (Cable Park), MTB, Surf, Windsurf, Backcountry with many more in development.
Hover Camera Follow You Drone
The Hover Camera Passport is a lightweight fold up quadcopter which uses computer vision technology to track your face and body as it flies around you. It has a sturdy compact design and it’s very easy easy to fly. This drone has a cool design in that it’s propellers are fully enclosed in a strong carbon fiber frame, thus making it safe.
The Hover Camera comes in at only 238 grams and will fly for 10-13 minutes. The software tracks you using your smartphone. The Hover camera also has the ability to shoot video in 4K resolution. Here is a nice video introducing you to the Hover Follow You Camera drone. It certainly was a massive hit at CES 2017.
3DR Solo Follow Me Drone
Solo Drone: 3DR designed this drone specifically for the very popular GoPro Hero cameras. It has excellent flight and gimbal stabilization giving stunning aerial film and stills.
It’s open design allows for new features, updates and hardware to be developed over time. It even comes with an extra accessory bay for new devices. The Solo gets better with age.
The 3DR Solo has many extra intelligent flight modes making this one terrific drone. These intelligent flight modes include Orbit, Selfie, Follow Me and Cable Cam. 2 new flight modes called Pano (Panorama) and Zipline are being developed.
Solo Follow Me: This mode keeps the camera centered on you at all times, capturing your every move. You can also enter “Free Look” mode at any time to take control of the camera yourself. Follow creates a virtual tether between Solo and a GPS-equipped mobile device, allowing Solo to track you or another subject in motion. With Follow, Solo can either remain stationary and track the subject by rotating, or it can move along with the subject.
The Solo drone Follow Me mode is very easy to setup. You just launch the Solo app and choose Follow. Now Solo is locked onto your mobile device, which must remain with your controller. You are now ready to film all the action.