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Whether you’re on your surfboard, snowboard, hoverboard, or alternative vehicle, follow me drones let you capture both you and your scenery from a unique vantage point. For this article, we have collected the top 5 follow me drones.
This includes the best value, through the most unusual, to the most feature-laden. Compare the top follow me drones with this article, but first, read all the details about how follow me drones work and what you need to consider.
How Does Follow Me Mode Work?
At this moment in time, there are two types of follow me technology for drones. This intelligent technology enables your drone to follow you around without any manual controlling to provide you with fantastic aerial shots in the form of photographs or video footage. Let’s talk about how drones can incorporate intelligent flight modes, and how this mode works.
1. GPS Technology
The first follow me drones were initially programmed with a GPS tracker that you would wear. This GPS signal would link to the tracker via a physical cable in the drone to update one another’s location. As expected, this would lead to restrictions and implications.
As technology has advanced, a GPS tracker is now programmed into a remote control that you wear in order for the drone to follow you. There are some limitations to having a remote control on you, but if you’re wearing suitable clothing with pockets, this shouldn’t hold you back too much, and many designs are lightweight.
By using GPS technology rather than visual sensors, the drone can follow you even when trees or other objects get between you and the drone. Even in rural locations where a drone is likely to lose signal, it can regain a GPS fix quickly to continue capturing your journey again.
2. Vision Recognition Technology
The best follow me drones are able to recognize when there are objects, people, and buildings in the way of the person or object it’s following. Vision recognition technology enables the camera in drones to continuously sense and collect data on images and sounds.
This processor in this technology can then recognize the background elements to the scene and relocate around these objects (whether they’re moving or stationary). Once the remote control is programmed to the GPS signal in the drone, the drone will then automatically begin to follow you and pause each time you pause.
Vision recognition technology can track an array of moving objects, people and animals, and you don’t need an external GPS tracker to achieve this. There are a few factors that can impact the drone’s ability to recognize objects, such as poor lighting conditions and a contract of light and shadows. But generally, it’ll relocate you in a few seconds.
3. Additional ActiveTrack Feature
With a built-in ActiveTrack, this takes follow me drones to a whole other level from when they first stepped onto the scene. ActiveTrack enables you to mark and track moving objects on your remote control’s screen.
These features combined help the drone to stabilize and transition smoothly between obstacles (whether they’re moving or not). ActiveTrack is now a standard feature for auto follow on camera drones.
Tips on Successfully Using The Follow Me Done
1. Don’t Fly Your Drone Too High
This intelligent flight setting is incredible for photographers/videographers and travelers, although it has its limitations you should abide by. In theory, this mode can only function to an altitude up to 500 meters. As your drone travels any higher than this, the chances of the signal dropping out increases.
Should you encounter this, the drone’s common response will be to activate its return to home function, which could then disrupt your footage. We’ve found that flying at an altitude of around 100 meters is the ideal height for the follow me mode to work successfully, as well as enabling the camera on the drone to clearer capture your movement and the scenery.
2. Fly Your Drone in an Open Space
Flying your drone in an open wide space will prevent obstacle avoidance so that your drone can follow you with as few objects surrounding you as possible. Although we mentioned earlier that the best drones are highly capable of focusing on you rather than moving and stationary objects, it makes the process much smoother if the drone doesn’t have to overthink about the subject it should focus on.
If you fly your drone in a busy destination with lots of cars, people and trees around, it’s more likely to lose signal and will find it more difficult to track you. In some scenarios, it’ll hover in one place until it can track your location again.
Finally, you should also avoid locations where there are numerous small objects that could confuse the drone’s signal. For example, forests tend to have animals running, leaves flying, and small branches that could cause the drone to go off track temporarily.
Using Follow Me Drones
This incredible mode for drones might sound like you need to be an expert in technology, but this is very easy to get used to and use. When you purchase a drone with follow me mode, you don’t have to programme this software into the toy. You’ll likely be required to download an app onto your phone to set up tracking and decide on the shots that you want your drone to capture, but that’s it.
Some of the best drone companies provide useful information on acquiring the range of shots you’re looking for. This will take into consideration, height, angles and the distance of the drone to you or the target object. With educational advice on shooting beautiful photos and videos, your follow me drone will accurately represent your journey so that you can relive the moment over and over again.
Purchase a Follow Me Drone From Our Choice of 5
Best Performance: Hubsan H501S
The Hubsan H501S is a sleek-looking follow me drone with a menacing black and gold finish. This is backed up by an impressive specification. This drone’s design is all with the user in mind: it’s minimalistic to operate. Only weighing a total of 155 grams, this drone is lightweight and portable.
Setting the drone up is a dream come true, as it comes with pre-drilled holes on top for easy installation. Once the drone is built, it’ll be up in the air in no time, and you’ll be impressed by how effortlessly it glides through the air.
The H501S boasts a 108oP camera and 5.8Ghz FPV system with a built-in FPV monitor featuring a swathe of telemetry data, including a battery voltage, pitch, roll, altitude, distance from base and speed. These features help to highlight the greatest strength of the H501S – its basic performance characteristics. The camera is equipped with a 720p-camera and the results aren’t as sharp as some other follow me drones, though they are still blur-free.
A set of brushless motors push the H501S up to speeds of 45mph, while a large 2700mah battery pushes flight time over 20 minutes, allowing this drone to pursue motorized vehicles using its follow me mode. This drone requires 4 AA batteries to feed the transmitter and operate the large screen. You’ll likely find that after three or four uses, the batteries need replacing, so always have some spares to hand.
The H501S also includes altitude hold, headless mode and return to home functionality, with both the drone and transmitter including a built-in GPS. As the drone begins to fly off, you might panic. But don’t, because the GPS tracking means you always know where your drone is – even if it’s out of sight. The only feature the H501S lacks is a gimbal stabilized camera, so the video is going to be a bit more jerky. But at a price point of $270, the H501S represents incredible value for money.
Best Value: Hubsan H502S
Baby brother to the H501S, the H502S is the first drone to feature follow me mode at a price point of $185. The H502S includes a 720P camera with 5.8Ghz FPV and built-in FPV monitor. Its camera is the drone’s most pivotal feature and its setup can capture videos at 30 frames per second. To enhance the camera’s quality even further, you can purchase a stabilization feature that ensures the camera remains steady when in the air.
This model is one of the strongest follow me drones on the market right now, and it’s certainly built to last. Its bodywork is protected by tough plastic to ensure that the interior experiences as little damage as possible.
The H502S also comes with a parachute system to provide even more protection. In the event of an approaching crash, the drone will deploy a parachute so it can safely land from the sky. To prevent such accidents happening in the first place, the drone is fitted with a GPS system so that it can accurately fly at all times.
Just like the pricier H502S, the FPV includes built-in telemetry data such as remaining battery charge, altitude, and speed. With its 600mah battery, flight time is a competitive 11 minutes, while brushed motors push this more compact drone to speeds of up to 25mph.
The follow me mode is most effective at distances greater than 10m from the subject and control distance is an impressive 200m. This drone also includes altitude hold, headless mode, and return to home functions. With a weight of 150g, the H502S is also a smaller and safer drone than the H501S, not requiring FAA registration.
Most Left-field: Flypro XEagle
A drawback of follow me drones is that you still have to carry a bulky transmitter on you. However, the Flypro XEagle follow me drone solves this problem by replacing the transmitter with a GPS enabled watch, letting you focus on the task at hand.
This drone has the ability to send you information to the connected watch. With precise information, you’re always aware of your drone’s status and whereabouts to avoid any confusion. For example, if your drone’s battery reaches 25 percent, you’ll receive a notification on your watch.
This watch also enables you to take control over flying the drone should you be someone who wants their own spin on things. The buttons at the side of the watch allow you to control when the drone takes off and lands. Alternatively, you could send a direction for the drone to orbit you: this is a particularly useful feature if you’re capturing footage for professional uses.
All drone movements are controlled through a set of buttons and scrollers, including one button for takeoff and one scroller for altitude. Unlike the Hubsan H501S and H502S, the XEagle features a gimbal stabilized 4K camera, which at all times points towards the GPS-enabled watch. The XEagle features a smart battery, preserving long term battery life by automatically discharging to a safe voltage if left sitting charged for extended periods.
The Flypro XEagle always maintains a relative position; f the drone is facing you and you turn around, the XEagle quickly flies over your head to face you once again. Just be careful to plan your route as the XEagle does not automatically detect and avoid objects during such manoeuvers. Although lacking FPV functionality, an impressive 20 minute flight time and 35mph maximum speed provide ample capability to capture the best action shot.
Most Capable: DJI Phantom 4
The DJI Phantom 4 is much more than a follow me drone; it’s a technological marvel. The Phantom 4 uses the same technique used by bats and submarines to automatically detect and avoid objects in its flight path or vicinity.
Compared to the DJI Phantom 3, the brand’s design and technology have dramatically improved. For example, the drone flies much smoother, thanks to its even weight distribution, and this also handles high winds exceptionally well – even when the drone is hovering. The Phantom 4 is also four times more stable than the 3 model, which helps to produce high-quality footage.
Compatible with the Apple iPad, the Phantom 4 allows you to track a target by simply touching that target on the screen, or select a destination by touching that destination on the screen. The Phantom 4 further boasts an impressive technical specification of 28 minutes flight time and a 45mph maximum speed from a fan-cooled 5350mah battery. It also offers a 3-mile FPV, and control range and 3-axis stabilized gimbal 4K camera.
Featuring AutoTrack, this drone enables you to select a subject for the drone to remain focused on and always keep at the centre of its frame. By continuously targeting the subject you want to track, this drone prevents you from having to retake any footage.
One factor to consider is that the Phantom 4 can only see what’s in front of it rather than objects orbiting the drone. However, if you take it to a free, open space, this isn’t much of a problem. Even considering a price point of around $1000, no other drone comes close to matching the Phantom 4 for the follow me aerial film.
Most Portable: Hover Camera Passport
Revealed at CES 2017, the Hover Camera Passport follow me drone or ‘Selfie-drone’ is impressive with its protected, fold-up propellors, and one-touch launch system. Designed primarily for close proximity filming, the Passport does not feature GPS, instead, it locks onto your face.
This drone features an impressive camera that shoots videos in 4K and images in 13 megapixels. It even comes with a built-in flash so you can obtain footage in poor-lighting conditions. The Hover Camera Passport also features a built-in image recognition software that enables the drone to maintain its position in the air, without having a GPS feature.
Meanwhile, the downward facing sonar and visual sensors maintain altitude. The Passport comes with two 1360mah easy-to-swap batteries, each giving 10 minutes flight time. The Passport also circles your location to capture your immediate environment.
Although easily disturbed by unfavorable wind and lighting conditions, the elegant design, ease of use and safety of the Passport could bring drones into closer proximity with humans and spell an end to the selfie stick.
As the Passport is one of the cheapest drones on the market, it’s no surprise that it stays in the air for less time than its competitors. On average, it’ll fly for just over 9 minutes. But, if there’s a strong breeze, it’ll automatically switch to Beast Mode which then drops your battery to 8 minutes.
Choosing Just One Follow me Drone
If we had to narrow this article don’t to one follow me drone, it’d be the DJI Phantom 4 for many reasons. This drone comes in an aerodynamic design to encourage a smooth, easy and safer flying experience. It can also pick up incredible speeds to keep up with your adventurous lifestyle. It’s a useful option for capturing natural beauty, thanks to its HD 4K and live-streaming feature.
We’re seriously impressed by how much this drone’s camera can handle. By covering up to 5km, this wide coverage is ideal for filming and provides you with plenty of scope for video footage. The drone also comes with a joystick controller for optimum handling and control for professional results every time.
Its frame is designed from magnesium that enables the drone to be light and also experience minimal vibrations as it glides through the air. Weighing only three pounds, this is an ideal portable toy for people on the go, too. The DJI Phantom 4 is also one of the fastest follow me drones as it can travel up to 45mph without running into obstacles. Once fully charged, it’ll comfortably last for 30 minutes of flying, although this flying time is less if it’s traveling at the maximum speed for the entire duration.
What are your thoughts on our selection of follow me drones? Or, do you think we’re missing some of the top contenders? Share your thoughts or recommendations in the comments.