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The latest trend in drones is the capability to track their target. Although this technology goes back to 2014 3DR Iris and 2015 DJI Phantom 3, a recent fad in drones seems to make the Follow Me function a necessity every model should have.
It is indeed exciting to have a flying machine independently film people from above, but the model at the time are below perfection despite the price and technology at the time.
Whereas the earlier set of follow me drones use the controller’s GPS signal to track their target, the modern day machines are more advanced. Their tracking capability rests on sophisticated computer algorithms and vision with the ability of humans to differentiate different targets with precision accuracy.
Gradually, tracking drone technology is getting to the point where they can assume the role of professional photographers and autonomously decide on what to take, how to take and when. Such a feat will be error-free and entirely without human intervention.
If you find having such drones amazing, let me whet your appetite with a few Follow Me drones using existing tracking technology. The list below consist of GPS signal trackers and those using vision recognition while a few drones have ditched both tracking techniques entirely.
The Best Drones That Follow You
The Best Drone That Follows You Under $1000 - DJI Mavic Pro Drone
The Best Follow Me Drone Under $500 - DJI Spark
The Best Follow Me Drone For Travel - DJI Mavic Air
The Most Reliable Follow Me Drone - DJI Phantom 4
The Best Affordable Follow Me Drone - HUBSAN H501SS X4
The Best Follow Me Drone For Professionals - Yuneec Typhoon H
The Best Follow Me Drone On The Market - Skydio R1
The Most Luxurious Follow Me Drone - DJI Inspire 2
The Best Follow Me Drones Comparison Table
DJI Mavic Pro
DJI Mavic Air
DJI Phantom 4
HUBSAN H501SS X4
Yuneec Typhoon H
DJI Inspire 2
12 MP 1080P FULL HD
CMOS 12MP 4K
CMOS 12MP 4K Ultra HD
5.2K X4S Camera
17 x 19 x 3.5 inches
5.62 x 5.62 x 2.16 inches
6.5 x 7 x 2.5 inches
13.8 x 13.8 x 10 inches
11.1 x 11.1 x 6.7 inches
20.5 x 18 x 12.2 inches
13 x 16 x 2 inches
23.8 x 23.8 x 18 inches
*Scroll right on mobile device to see every item
The Best Follow Me Drones Reviews
DJI Mavic Pro
Camera: 12MP 4K
Control range: 4.3 miles
Flight time: 27 min
Dimensions: 17 x 19 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 1.64 lbs
It’s compact and packs amazing features stands the DJI Mavic Pro apart from other. This Follow Me drone is foldable making it an ideal tracking flying device.
This device has a 4k camera that produces 12.7-megapixel photoshoot and includes exposure bracketing and burst shooting modes driven with ActiveTrack software and can spot obstacles to avoid crash using smart optic flow system for image recognition.
The tracking flying machine can display live HD using OcuSync tech to produce smooth and clear videos. It has about 40 mph to cover 100 meters in 5 seconds.
While in flight, it can hover steadily for more than 20 minutes with an average test on a full charge showing between 24 and 27 minutes. When the battery drains, it takes about an hour and a quarter to get it fully charged and continue your flight without further delay.
The downward video system is one of the exciting characteristics of the DJI Mavic Pro that ensures it stays level while in the air. This impressive trait allows a clear shot when filming above different topographies using the Terrain Follow mode. And also, there is the feature that enables a photoshoot to be taken with the Gesture mode when you wave to the drone.
- It has a variety of improved filming modes;
- Miniaturized and lightweight;
- Fly at a top speed of 40 miles per hour;
- Robust 4K camera with 12.7-megapixel strength.
- Outstanding flight time
- Lots of features yet easy to learn
- Obstacle avoidance system
- Lightweight and compact
- Noiseless compared to other models
- Fast recharging battery
- Flexible Gimbal
- Live stream videos
- Hand gesture mode
- Difficult to launch from grass
- Narrow Field of View (FOV)
- Needs smartphone full experience to fly
Camera: 12 MP 1080P FULL HD
Control range: 1,2 miles
Flight time: 16 min
Dimensions: 5.62 x 5.62 x 2.16 inches
Weight: 0.66 lbs
This drone brings the hope of flying alive for beginners. The DJI Park is your best bet if you want a great drone with a soft spot for the newbie. After all, new drone enthusiasts can find a drone in the top category that allows them to fly and learn the art.
The drone provides the new pilots with 16 minutes of flight time of 1,2 miles maximum range. It is noteworthy, however, that to achieve the 1,2 miles range, you have to use the controller which relies on the frequency you chose.
Spark comes with such a fantastic feature like the gesture mode which allows the drone to detect your movement and delivers the tasks assigned. With the gesture mode, you can take a photograph, or cause the drone to move up and down as directed. The flying machine features superb Follow Me mode alongside Orbit and Tap Fly and other styles.
The new flyers can use its one key return to home to return home without much ado; likewise, its functions of auto takeoff and landing provide easy ways for the newbie pilot to control the drone without the stress of having to figure it out like the experienced pilots.
Spark also has a forward facing obstacle avoidance sensor to give the inexperienced pilot a hitch-free flight without worrying about hitting an obstacle in flight mode.
As for its photo shoot, Spark’s camera attached to a 2-axis gimbal stabilizer offers a 1080p at 30fps, while the quality isn’t up to that of 3-axis gimbals in other models of DJI, it footage is still stable and usable.
- GPS stabilization
- Easy to fly
- Obstacle avoidance feature
- Lots of intelligent flight modes
- Compact and lightweight
- Supports gesture controls
- Return-to-home feature
- Affordable price
- Short battery life
- No 4K video
- Limited speed and range
DJI Mavic Air
Camera: CMOS 12MP 4K
Control range: 2.49 miles
Flight time: 16-21 min
Dimensions: 6.5 x 7 x 2.5 inches
Weight: 0.95 lbs
This Follow Me drone is from the world top-rated drone maker, DJI. The DJI Mavic Air followed another top model of the maker, the Mavic Pro. The flying machine is a little congested because of the hanging shadow of Mavic Pro and the Spark. However, Mavic Air remains a great quadcopter in term of size (it’s a foldable drone) and capability.
There are areas where Mavic Air performs better than Mavic Pro. When you compare the capability of their obstacle sensors, Mavic Air can sense 3-directional including front, back and below. Its ability to process data from about seven onboard infrared sensors and cameras is powered by the DJI’s FlightAutonomy 2.0 which enables the drone to build a 3D map of its surroundings by stitching together all incoming data picked from FlightAutonomy device.
Its Advanced Pilot Assistance System can be argued to be the best advancement in Mavic Air. This facility allows the flying machine to avoid obstacles autonomously. The quadcopter is indeed a beautiful machine in the air and compared its foldable feature, which is even smaller than the tiny Spark, and its 4K shoot facility supported by the DJI’ ActiveTrack functions make Mavic Air an amazing follow me drone to own.
- Lots of intelligent flight modes
- Dedicated joystick controller
- Highly sensitive obstacle avoidance
- Gimbal stabilized 4K camera
- Except you’re in Cinematic mode, the camera controls are touchy
DJI Phantom 4
Camera: CMOS 12MP 4K Ultra HD
Control range: 3.1 miles
Flight time: 28 min
Dimensions: 13.8 x 13.8 x 10 inches
Weight: 3.04 lbs
One of the famous product with a variety of features in the DJI family and the drone community is DJI Phantom 4. The drone is useful for various needs and flying it is safer and easier with its satellite positioning support. It’s HD 4k, live-streaming, video facility offer innovative Vision Positioning system making it suitable for different application.
The drone is an aerodynamic model with smart and innovative design making it attractive and offers excellent performance and purpose driven.
Due to the magnesium body frame, the drone is amazingly light in weight and also has minimal vibrations because of the core design making it charming and responsive. The overall weight of the drone is only 3 pounds which allow the owner to carry it around with ease.
If camera power is what you want, the HD video camera offers extended distance coverage with a range of 5km making it one of the best for long distance filming and photoshoot. If features joystick controller and some camera modes designed for easy handling and control with a fantastic result.
The drone offers about 30 minutes of flight on a full battery. The average time by DJI Phantom 4 is between 26 and 28 minutes on a full charge. It travels at45 miles per hour on a maximum forward speed while its obstacle sensory system protects it from running into an impediment.
- It comes with an amazing HD video camera;
- At a full charge, you can get 28 minutes of flight on the average;
- It takes impressive, clear snapshots over a long distance;
- In-build with a wide range of flight and camera modes;
- Handling and driving easier with Joystick style controller.
- 60fps 4K video
- 24mm Wide angle lens
- 20MP Raw and JPG images
- Long-distance control
- Nice follow me drone with amazing quality
- Versatile built-in controller screen
- Longer battery life
- Cool Return-to-home element
- Obstruction detection system
- Gimbal lock
- Auto-pilot flight modes
- High-performance Sports mode
- Exhausting software updates
- It's pricey
HUBSAN H501SS X4 FPV Drone
Camera: 1080P HD
Control range: 500 m
Flight time: 20 min
Dimensions: 11.1 x 11.1 x 6.7 inches
Weight: 3.3 lbs
You should not be distracted by its large size; this size does not affect its performance as a Follow Me drone. Agreed, the Hubsan H501S X4 is more substantial than its contemporary in the market, but it’s easier to handle and cool to fly.
It is another easy one for new flyers wanting to start with a follow me drone they can control. With this flying machine, you can start learning the art of flying a drone, and it weighs only 410 grams despite its 220mm size.
The drone allows you to add your micro SD card to increase the storage memory as the camera can capture high-quality video and photos. Hubsan H501S X4 can record a 1080p quality video, and with your own Micro SD card, you can have more footage.
For the Hubsan H501S X4, you have a little learning to do to master the controller. It has its own screen that provides information on how you are flying and how close you are to the machine. It also comes with some flight modes such as the control for beginners to help them with basics. With full battery power, the drone can last for 20 minutes on the sky with a total of about 300 meters control distance.
You can have Hubsan H501S X4 in three colors of black, white and gold.
- Beneficial Flight Modes
- Broad Reach
- Brushless motors
- Accurate GPS
- Excellent camera
- Perfect Return to Home
- No image stabilization (IS)
- FPV transmission can be weak
Yuneec Typhoon H
Camera: 12.4MP GCO3 4K
Control range: 1 mile
Flight time: 25 min
Dimensions: 20.5 x 18 x 12.2 inches
Weight: 4.3 lbs
This is another excellent drone for starters. Although it may look scary at first sight, it is a friend you want to keep close. The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is a smart follow me flying machine perfect for a wide variety of applications including filming, photography and many other needs.
Powerful 360 camera is offering amazing shots, RealSense R200 camera powered by Intel Atom helping the drone avoid obstruction are some of the powerful features of Yuneec Typhoon H Pro drone. With these great features, especially the obstacle avoidance sensor, your follow me drone can function without any problem. This is why it is fully automated and function hands-free to capture all the footage independently.
It has a 7: HD LCD android compatible round station, a screen touch through which the pilot can obtain any flight information required. This fantastic screen also doubles as a controller to control and fly the machine and view footage from its 720p HD quality captured images. Additional flight feature is the indoor positioning system which gives the drone the ability to operate indoors.
The battery when fully charged can power the drone for up to 20 minutes of flight time. This means you can record fantastic footage within the time frame; also, you have the option of inserting a Micro SD card for more storage. High-quality camera and various flight modes are reasons why the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is a reliable option for you.
- Modular design
- Six-rotor design
- Raw and JPG image capture
- Innovative gimbal settings
- Rotating 360° 4K video camera
- Can carry heavier cargoes
- Fairly heavy
- Price tag
- It descends rather too fast
Skydio R1 Smart Drone
Camera: 1080P UHD 4K
Control range: Cruise Controls
Flight time: 16 min
Dimensions: 13 x 16 x 2 inches
Weight: 2.2 lbs
Amazing flying tracking camera are birthed all the time, consider the latest top-end tracking machine from Skydio located in California as another great input to the follow me drone market. The maker said, with the release of R1, the flying camera has arrived, could this be the game changer? We will see in the overview of R1 next.
Evidence from the performance of R1is pointing in the direction of the manufacturer’s assertion. The drone seems to be miles ahead of its contemporary in the areas of flight autonomy and tracking. Of course, the best follow me drone should be autonomous and have the sensors to track its target and take an independent decision about what to capture and the best way to do it with minimal user input.
R1 is indeed the most advanced of the selfie drones currently in the market. The best part of this quadcopter is relieving you of all flying troubles because of its flight autonomy. R1 can best be described as a flying photographer because it takes over entirely from you regarding the function of flying and capturing footage.
As for the price, you should be shocked at what the price tag is. It goes for a whopping $2,499 but it sure worth the deal if you can afford the cash, the world is all yours to capture with absolute pleasure on your side. With a 4K camera, amazing follow me ability and flight autonomy, R1 is the deal!
Well, since everyone is not the same, pilots who still want to be in-charge may not find the R1 the ideal follow me drone because they want to put their professional capability to the test, shoot more cinematically than only have a camera that beat them all in its tracking powers.
- Amazing 4K video quality
- It has a Real 360-degree obstacle-avoidance
- Integrated hard drive
- Instinctive easy to use the app
- Adequate battery life
- Exorbitantly priced for most consumers
DJI Inspire 2
Camera: 5.2K X4S Camera
Control range: 4.3 miles
Flight time: 23-27 min
Dimensions: 23.8 x 23.8 x 18 inches
Weight: 9.37 lbs
This is a drone targeted at professional, high-tech cinematographers like the Hollywood industry players. This is another top end drone from the DJI; the Inspire 2 is everything you will ever need for professional quality footage. Another thing with this drone is the need to buy a dedicated camera separately to empower your vision of quality cinematography.
Once it’s all set and done, you will have in your hand the most amazing photographic technology money can buy. The choice of camera you choose to go with will determine a whole new level of video quality you will get. You can go for the 6K Zenmuse X7 camera which gives you the capability to record video in CinemaDNG/RAW, and you can have the 5.2K video recording in Apple ProRes. At such rate, you are far ahead of other and not in the class of the 4K camera of this world anymore.
The Inspire 2 has up to 27 minutes flight time using a dual battery system for prolong time in the air. The battery system comes with self-heating technology making it perform at low temperature to for enhanced flight time.
This machine can fly at fantastic 94kph with a descending speed of 9m/s and ascend speed of 6m/s, where it takes just 5 seconds to attain a speed of 80kph. The DJI Inspire 2 is a super racer for pilots who love speed; you just got yourself a playmate!
Inspire 2 safety and computer vision technology has the DJI’s Flight Autonomy firmware which combines with the onboard sensors to give the drone a 2-directions of obstacle avoidance as well as sensor redundancy capabilities.
For its follow me functions, the drone has DJI’s Spotlight Pro, using advanced visual algorithms to track its target in the air. The gimbal helps the drone to lock on its target no matter the direction you are flying to keep the target in focus. This quadcopter has two operators, but it can free up one if there is no second operator present.
- Lots of features
- Incredible build quality
- Lasting battery life
- It is costly in comparison with other consumer drones
What is Follow Me Technology?
The follow me technology is a process of giving a drone the capability to track its subject and perform actions the pilot could have done by himself. The technology uses a transmitter or button that offers the flying machine the autonomy to fly and capture target objects independent of the pilot. For the drone to be able to operate without pilot input, the quadcopter features an obstacle avoidance sensor which helps it to fly safely. Therefore, when you have a tracking drone, you can use both hands doing other things while the drone independently takes video and photos while you are performing other tasks.
How do track drones work?
Follow me drones can lock on targets and follow them wherever they go. It has a sensory capacity to react to their gestures and take photos or record videos. These drones can fly without a pilot. In the market today, we have two main follow me technologies (GPS and Vision Recognition) found in quadcopters. These tracking tech works differently to autonomously and accurately fly and carry out assigned tasks; these technologies are discussed below:
This is the tech used in the first generation tracking drones. It uses a GPS transmitter or Ground Station Controller (GSC) to follow a target. The GPS tech is a virtual tether that links the pilot to the flying machine. Usually, the technology is located in the remote controller and is needed for the drone to obey a follow command.
While this tech remains the most accurate, its drawback is the need for a pilot and a controller to achieve your purpose. This type of drone cannot fly and track without pilot input.
Vision Recognition Tech
Drones with vision recognition technology borrow the robotic technology used since the 2000s to detect, recognize and interact with its environment. This is possible through the use of camera captured data to carry out some analyzed instruction to achieve an intended goal. Because of the high demands of this tech on computing, safety and battery life, the use of this technology on drones is only lately.
How the vision recognition technology works
- According to the instruction, the drone starts to follow the moving subject spontaneously.
- The quadcopter cameras and sensors gathered image and sound data and transmitted to the processor.
- With enough data, the processor recognizes the background parts of the scene and finds any moving objects.
With the recent advancement in technology, the above processes can be accomplished in a few seconds. With the vision recognition technology, the latest follow me drones so amazing.
Apart from the faster reaction, the technology now can follow any moving objects such as bikes, cars, animals and people without needing external control beyond its in-built system. However, because the technique depends on electronic impulses to act, its accuracy can be influenced by lighting conditions. As a result, light contrast in different areas can affect its performance.
Cautions when using follow me drone
Loss of signal is possible according to the optimum designed range by different manufacturers. When you buy your drone, ensure to check the optimal range for your model to prevent accident and get the drone to perform optimally. You should also be aware that autonomous flying drones may not be as accurate in avoiding object as a professional pilot would. Therefore, be mindful of your environment when flying your drone to reduce the risk of an accident.
Not all models are flexible with a preset feature to define areas of interest for your drone to fly to. That means when buying a Follow Me drone, these are things to watch out for before ordering.
The tracking technologies have opened up more possibilities in the industry. What you prefer in both techniques should drive your decision to buy; whether to find GPS or Vision Recognition based Follow Me drone.
10 Must Know Tips before Flying Your Auto-Follow UAV
As you can seeing the preceding discussions about the Follow Me drones, whether autonomous or not, you still have a role to play in its safety.
1. Adjust first
Before setting your drone free, its best to take a test shot to see the position of the image and make proper adjustments and accuracy settings that you want.
2. Read the manual
Don’t be fooled by the autonomy song, your drone is yours and there are some controls you still have over it. The way to know what you can do with your machine is to read the manual and learn the most you can about it. Sometimes, the manufacturer does give a hint to likely problem and learning about it might protect your investment.
3. Avoid obstacle prone areas
Most autonomous flying tracking drones do not have object avoidance system. It is, therefore, to choose a wide and spacious area without obstacles to fly your drone for safety purposes.
4. Color matters for tracking
When your environment color blends with a target, the camera may not be able to pick the object. Therefore, choose an object that is conspicuous in the environment.
5. Check battery warning
Without adequate battery charge, your drone cannot be in the air. Always check battery warning to know when to return your drone home. Otherwise, it may be lost in action without a trace.
6. Never ignore your Follow Me buddy
Don’t get overconfident because you bought the most expensive tracking drone. Yes, it can perform creditably well, but it’s a machine all the same and anything can happen. Therefore, always check your drone while it's following to be sure all is well.
7. Don’t just fly away
Remember that the drone camera needs to take accurate recognition of the subject before letting it off. When you are starting, gradually accelerate to give the drone a good focus before letting it go on its own.
8. Maintain a close distance
You may have used or seen a follow me drone with long range and assume your current drone is the same. Different makers have a diverse range for their UAV products, always keep your drone closer when flying for the first time until you are familiar with how it works.
9. Set the minimum height
The autonomous drones require minimum flight elevation setting. When you are in an environment with lots of obstacles, it is best to set your minimum elevation higher than obstacles in the terrain.
10. Set your home position before flying
The home position setting is standard in the most Follow Me drone. It is great to set your drone return home point before take-off. At least it will know its way home.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Follow me Quadcopters
What are Auto-Follow Drones?
They are UAV with features to follow a set target and perform assigned tasks. These flying machines can track a target without the pilot directing them. The drones can do this because of embedded tracking technology which gathers data and process data to carry out assigned tasks.
When Was a Follow Me Drone Introduced?
The first follow me drone was introduced in 2016 and many more are present today with improved capabilities.
What do Follow Me drones follow?
They can track any moving object in their environment including people, animals.
How does the drone's tracking feature work?
They work according to the embedded follow me technology about the environment’s map coordinates. There are two technologies including GPS and Vision Recognition. The GPS uses the user controller device as a virtual tether to communicate and give an instruction of what to track to the drone, and it follows.
For the Vision Recognition, it uses the drone’s camera and embedded sensors to gather data and process it using a suite of program analyze and carry out instruction to keep the object in track. This second tracking technology offers freedom to the pilot and gives the drone the autonomy to follow the subject and carry out assigned tasks.
Do we have waterproof drones?
For now, and with the reviewed drones, the answer is a no. However, drones are in their infancy and still developing, we hope in the future, there will be waterproof drones. With that said, you should know that current drones can even withstand a few raindrops in case they got caught in the rain while flying.
How fast do self-following drones fly?
Generally, there are speed restrictions for civilian drones. But, you can still have drones fly at a speed of 25kpm, on average.
Can a Follow me Drone avoid Obstacles in flight?
Yes. A few models can avoid impediment, and they are safe to fly. But, not all drones are designed this way, and it is best if the pilot does the right thing to avoid obstacles and secure his drone from crashing.
Can follow me drones follow in windy weather?
You need to distinguish between windy and breezy climate. Not even airplanes with all the safety measure are encouraged to fly in windy weather. However, if it’s a breezy climate, the tracking drones can fly, but you need to watch the weather and stay clear of atmospheres that can become too strong for your drone.
What Height Can These Drones Follow?
Most tracking quadcopters have fixed altitude they can hover, and this height is not changing no matter the height of their subject. However, in a drone with Terrain Follow feature, the drone’s altitude can vary according to its subject.
Can I use a Follow Me drone?
The drone has its purpose; if you require such, then you can use as long as you can learn how it functions and follow the simple guide of its use.
What is the distance the drone can follow at?
No two drones have the same distance at which they follow; this is the prerogative of the manufacturers. However, it is best to keep a short distance to enable you to monitor your drone, except if you have your reason for keeping it far from you.
Keeping the drone too far from its subject might result in loss of signal and could be regrettable.
Are Follow Me drones safe?
Not all follow me drones have object avoidance system, only a few do. Although a few come with forwarding looking sensors, but will not prevent the quadcopter from a collision in obstacle prone terrain. Hence, the need to fly slowly and cautiously.
The best way to make your drone safe is to learn how to fly, how it operates and following manufacturer’s safe flying precautions.
It is essential to plan your route cautiously minding your environment and plan. Most importantly, monitor your battery life and make sure you have a fully charged battery before flying.
The follow me technology in drones is real. Because drone is closer to people, its ability to autonomously fly and take pictures and shoot videos add to the attraction of people to these flying machines.
Drones for recording live-event extends the human capability, and often, you will wonder if you can do it without them?
However useful and versatile they may look, remember that you are still the master. Your guidance in term of planning their flight schedules and making sure they are well equipped to fly regarding battery and weather will go a long way to ensure a safe flight.
Remember, the manufacturer’s manual is your friend, walk with it and read it to learn more about your flying buddy. If you need help learning about drones, feel free to talk to us, we will be glad to help.
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