The Best Drones That Follow You
The Best Drones That Follow You
You are interested in finding the best drones that follow you. It is more than likely you arrived here because you are a sports enthusiast, or are into extreme sports. Still photos allow you to capture some elements of the thrill of the sport, but action video really let you feel how exciting it is. GoPro capitalized on this market and produced a camera that you can attach to yourself to capture your view while you are doing something truly amazing. You no longer need a companion photographer to capture your exciting moments.
However, what you really want to do is to video you while you are flying down the slopes on your snowboard, or doing incredible jumps on your bike. The advancement of drone technology has now reached the point where drones can now autonomously follow and film its pilots.
There are many drones on the market that follow you while you are doing something exciting. However, not all of these drones have the same features and perform this function in the same way. There are a number of points you need to consider when deciding what drone to get.
Follow Me Tracking
There are now two technologies that are used to allow the drone to follow you: GPS tracking, and object recognition.
Most follow me drones use a GPS enabled device such as a wear able transmitter or mobile phone to allow the drone to track your movements. The drone is programmed to autonomously follow the transmitter, and keep the target in the picture at all times. You are essentially establishing a virtual tether between you, and your drone.
A newer advancement in image processing uses people and object recognition to allow the drone to follow you, and aim the camera directly at you. First you need to perform a test flight to allow the onboard software to recognize your shape and outer appearance from all sides.
Aside from the way that the drone tracks you, there are several variants of follow me mode. This can vary from hovering, circling around you, or following you in a straight line. You can also task the drone to fly ahead, behind, or even beside you.
In some situations, the sporting activity you will be performing will not be in a clear open space, and flat space. In this case you want to be sure that your action follow me drone has collision avoidance. You should be focusing on your sporting activity, and not having to worry if your follow me drone is going to crash into a tree. There are two aspects of obstacle avoidance: forward collision avoidance, and terrain tracking.
Forward collision avoidance is the drone feature that uses forward looking sensors to determine how far it is away from large objects, and actively controls the drone to stop or to re-route the drone away. So if you are cycling through a forest, and make a turn, the drone will sense the large trees in front of it, and will not crash into it.
Terrain tracking uses downward facing sensors to be able to determine how high the drone is flying relative to the ground. Many drones, even inexpensive ones, now feature altitude hold which uses barometric sensors to determine the drone flying height. However, when you are flying over hills on your BMX bike, you need more advanced sensors and smarter software to be sure your drone doesn’t fly into a hillside due to extreme changes in elevations at high speeds.
Programmable Flight Path
To add an extra layer of safety, many drone manufacturers are including programmable flight paths. This establishes a route that the drone fill follow, established by waypoint, but will still keep its camera focused on you.
In many cases, you are going to following a pre-determined route, such a s a bike path, or cable wakeboarding. You can use this information to ensure increased drone flight safety. Keep your drone away from existing infrastructure, trees, buildings, and other obstacles.
Maximum Flight Speed
This is sometimes an overlooked quantity when ranking the best drones that follow you. The maximum speed is crucial if you want your drone to be able to keep up with you while you are flying down the slopes on your snowboard.
With the dynamic nature of some extremes ports, you also need to consider the drone’s ability to accelerate and its flying agility.
Camera Quality and Gimbal
Many of the best follow me drones come with a camera, but others allow you to attach your own camera, such as a GoPro. There are four things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to action cameras: resolution, frame rate, field of view, and gimbal.
Resolution refers to the pixel dimensions that the video camera will capture. Obviously, higher resolution means a better-quality video taken. However, higher resolution can also lead to larger file sizes, and the need for a faster memory card.
Frame rate refers to how many images per second are contained within the video. Typical video rates are 30 frames per second. If you are planning to show your action video in slow motion, then you will want to use a higher frame rate. GoPro camera can shoot anywhere from 24 to 240 fps.
The camera field of view is the amount of the scene that the camera can see. If the camera could see everything in front of it, it would have a 180 degree field of view.
To ensure a vibration free, smooth and professional looking video, you want to be using a gimbal system for your camera. Camera gimbals are small mechanical devices that keep the camera level no matter how the drone is flying. A proper gimbal system is essential for capturing clear, stable pictures, and video shots from your drone.
Best Drones That Follow You Quick Comparison
DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Stable Camera Platform
Intelligent Flight Controls
DI Mavic Pro
Intelligent Flight Controls
Hubsan X4 H502S
Top End Technology
DJI Inspire 2
Professional Aerial Platform
1. DJI Mavic Pro Review
- Super portable design
- Solid Construction
- Gimbaled 4K Camera
- Fragile gimbal assembly
- Affected by winds
- Small FOV
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is an improved version of the Phantom 4, with many improved and advanced features. The Phantom 4 Pro features numerous intelligent flight modes along with new image stabilization makes filming much easier.
The Phantom 4 Pro camera is a 1 inch 20 Megapixel CMOS sensor that is capable of shooting 4K video at 60 frames per second. The camera also uses a mechanical shutter which helps to eliminate rolling shutter distortion which can happen when taking videos of fast moving objects at high speeds.
The Pro 4 comes with an environmental sensing system based on infrared sensors, and stereo vision. It can detect objects up to 30 meters in front of it which the guidance system uses to avoid the object, or to hover in case of emergency. Combined with the side, and rear infrared sensors, this drone can avoid obstacles in all directions.
There is a downward facing camera that issued by the terrain following system. This can be used to maintain the height above ground from 1 to 10 meters. However, the terrain following mode is limited to slop changes of no more than 20 degrees.
This drone features Active Track, which uses advanced image recognition algorithms to follow you, and does not rely on a GPS tracker. So long as are you less than 30 feet from the ground, the tracking system works fine. By default, the drone will stay behind the target so that it can sense and avoid any potential obstacles.
This drone has many features that cannot be covered in a brief review. However, the features mentioned make it one of the best drones that follow you.
2. DJI Pantom 4 Pro Review
- Improved camera
- Obstacle avoidance
- Intelligent flight modes
- Extra battery pricey
- Not portable
- A bit pricey
The Phantom 4 Pro is an upgraded version of the Phantom 4. What is surprising is that DJI just didn’t go ahead and call this drone the Phantom 5. There is a world of difference between the features of the Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 Pro.
The Phantom 4 has active 5 direction active collision avoidance. This drone has sensors on its front, back, left, right, and underside. These sensors actively scan the environment as the drone is flying to autonomously avoid building, trees, or any other large obstacle you may encounter. The FlightAutonomy system is so good that it makes this drone almost impossible to crash.
The camera on this drone is similar to the DJI Mavic. It is a 1 inch sensor that can shoot 4K video at up to a frame rate of 60 fps. Still images can be captured at up to 20 megapixels. It also features aperture control, and a mechanical shutter.
Active Track is one of the many intelligent flight modes available for this drone. You can find this feature on the DJI GO app under advanced flight modes. Since the tracking is vision based, you could leave the remote behind, but this is not recommended.
Active Track has the trace, profile, and spotlight mode. In trace mode, the drone follows you, keeping you centered in the video frame. Trace is the default mode, where you outline the object to follow, and the drone will automatically follow the object or person. In profile mode, the drone flies beside you and matches your speed. In spotlight mode, the drone stays stationary, but tracks your movements.
3. 3DR Solo Drone Review
- Intelligent flight computer
- High build quality
- GoPro compatible
- Gimbal not included
- No active collision avoidance
- No camera included
The 3DR Solo is a technologically advanced drone that features many intelligent flight modes. The drawback to this drone is that it does not come with a camera. However, it was designed to mate perfectly with a GoPro camera. If you are a sports enthusiast, there is a good chance that you already have a GoPro camera. 3DR worked with GoPro to develop a custom integration that makes the GoPro and 3DR Solo work perfectly together.
Unfortunately, this drone does not come with obstacle avoidance. This drone is best suited for flat open terrain, where there are no obstacles to be worried about. However, you can use the geofence feature of the drone software. You can trace a boundary in the flight plan app to keep your drone safe.
What this drone does have is two dedicated 1GHz Cortex-An Linux computers. There is one in the controller, and another onboard the drone. This makes this drone incredibly reliable, and avoids a firmware freeze.
In dynamic follow, the drone follows you and frames you dynamically. You can even change the drone’s altitude and position in real time with the controller sticks. You can also have the drone follow and orbit you simultaneously for amazing cinematic effects.
You can also use the cable car mode to draw a line that the drone will follow while it keeps the camera pointed at you. The intelligent flight modes, and high build quality of the 3DR solo makes it one of the best drones that follow you.
4. Hubsan X4 H502S Review
- Follow me mode
- Altitude hold
- GPS Navigation
- Brushed motors
- Only 720p camera
- Low FPV fps
If you are looking at getting a drone with follow me functionality, but want to go with the cheapest option, then the X4 H502S is the way to go. You will have to sacrifice a bit of camera quality, as this drone only comes with a 720p HD camera. The drone does have a camera stabilization system, so the resultant videos are of decent quality.
The follow me function works best at a setting of 10 meters from you. The drone uses GPS tracking to follow the controller, so you’ll need to carry this with you.
Similar to the 3DR Solo, this drone does not have any active collision avoidance. However, given its price it would be surprising if this drone came with this feature. Be sure to use this drone in open spaces using the follow me mode.
The camera is an important component because it captures all landscape pictures as well as record those amazing videos seamlessly. To this end, Hubsan H502S offers 2MP, inbuilt 720PHD camera. Also, to provide you with enough storage for saving video footage and updates, the drone has a micro SD card slot. This drone is designed with 8.5GHz wireless video transmission and 2.4GHz FPV (First Person View) transmitter which enables the vehicle to transmit, in real-time, very sharp images and stable videos even when it’s far away in the sky.
This drone is on the lower end of functionality for follow me drones. However, if you are only looking to play around with follow me mode functionality, the low price of this drone makes it attractive.
5. DJI Inspire 2 Review
- Intelligent flight modes
- Smart home return
- Upgraded camera and GPS
- Limited camera compatibility
- High price
- No backward compatibility
If you are looking for the absolute best in professional aerial photography drones that have a follow me mode, then the DJI Inspire 2 is the drone that you want. This top of the line drone has every feature that you want, and a few extras, that you need to capture the perfect action sports video of yourself.
The forward and downward vision systems let the Inspire 2 detect and avoid obstacles up to a range of 30 meters. This allows for protected flight at up to 54 kph. There are also upward facing infrared sensors that can scan obstacles above, which is important when flying in enclosed spaces. The accurate terrain detection allows for accurate hovering and positioning.
The reliability of this drone is simply amazing. It has dual redundancy in key modules such as the IMU, barometer, and battery system. The flight control computer uses inputs from both the main and redundant system, providing for more safer flight.
What really sets this drone apart from the rest is its amazing camera. It has several capture modes including CinemaDNG, and ProsRes. The camera has incredible resolutions options including 5.2K 40fps and 4K 60fps. This is a professional camera mounted on a professional drone. The stabilization and image quality are absolutely brilliant, supported by a platform with GPS navigation.
You will be highly impressed with the video quality that this drone produces. The multiple advanced features and reliability of the Inspire 2 makes one of the best drones that follow you.