In this post, we are talking about one particular type of drones – the drones with a “follow me” feature. We are not only throwing light on this specific feature but sharing our well-researched list of top 7 drones that follow you while you are on an adventurous journey (did we hear skating?).
Ok, relax! These follow-me drones are not meant to spy on someone. In fact, they are designed with some positive intention, not for spying on your neighbor or fiancées..wink.., but for the serious hobbyist!!!
Having a drone that flies like a falcon, captures high resolution pictures, provide the luxury of having a bird-eye view of your own house or farmland that too in real time plus accompany you even while you are cycling or boating and simply wherever you go – no its not a fairytale, it is not a dream anymore. It's a reality already.
Thanks to the growing technology! It is a well-known quote that necessity is the mother of invention. But going a step further, as Jonathan Schattke rightly said, creativity is the father of invention. Yes, the analogy holds so well in case of drone technology that is evolving rapidly these days.
Because, most of the experienced drone hobbyists look for “follow me” feature while purchasing a drone since the drone acts like an aerial camera crew even when you are running, cycling, trekking or canoeing, often avoiding any obstacles. You do not need to take any professional photographer along with you.
So here we are, with the amazing end result - the more advanced drones in the affordable price range with lot many autonomous features.
Depending on the type of technology the drones are using to provide this “follow me” feature, there are mainly of two types.
Most, in fact, all of the initial drones featuring ‘follow me’ option uses GPS technology. The working principle is pretty much straightforward. There will be a connection between the drone and the ground station (either a remote control or the smartphone). So, when the follow me feature is turned on, the drone automatically follows the remote (or smartphone) wherever it goes. Depending on the models, the drone may feature many additional sub-features as well.
Some of the latest drones make use of a recognition software called Active track to provide the “follow me” feature. The software enables the drone to recognize certain object or person keeping the camera focused on them solely.The algorithm of this software is designed in such a way that drone can recognize any particular object (or person) by analyzing its shape, color, and appearance from different angles. Such drones relay mainly on the facial and object recognition software and not GPS technology to pinpoint your exact location.
If you are looking for best recommendations for the follow-me drones, behold! Our team has put-together a top 7 product list comprising of best 7 follow-me drones in 2017.
DJI is the leading marketers in easy- to-fly drones and aerial photography system. This particular product, DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter is undoubtedly one of the best photographic drones. Though little pricey, it is worth it. You can take really good pictures using this quadcopter.
There are few key aspects that make Phantom 4 a top follow-me drone. Phantom 4 comes with an excellent carrying case that even has got a place for your iPad! The initial setups are very easy and in fact, it is made simpler than its previous model Phantom 3. The included charger has room to charge both the remote control and the drone both at the same time.
To make the drone work on a smartphone or iPad, you need to download and install the DJI’s user-friendly app - Go App. Once you launch the app and switch on the drone, they both will get connected. Yes, it is done automatically, you do not have to do anything. Surprised?!, hold on, DJI has got lot many surprises for you to offer.
The engineers have so intelligently built this product that, there is even a smartphone/ tablet holder in the remote control.
Now, the DJI’s Go app shows drone’s camera view. You iPad (or phone) screen will be overlaid with a lot of details like auto takeoff, record, home etc
Let us talk a little about the camera of this quadcopter before flying, since it is famously known as the photographic drone.
To take good quality pictures using a drone, it is not only the specification of the camera attached to it that matters, but you also need to consider how well you can hover the drone.
In case of phantom 4, the gimbal stabilization technology and hover function along with the powerful camera capable of capturing 4k video at 30 frames per second lets you take great quality pictures. Not only this, the quadcopter even features the active camera stabilization system and an additional inertial measurement unit IMU for extra stability to cancel out any unwanted camera movement during the flight. So, no more poor quality blurred pictures!
Now, coming to the actual point i.e., flying the drone itself, Phantom is an easy-to-fly drone by the DJI. You can choose to fly the quadcopter using the iPad or the remote control. Taking off is easy, just tap on the auto takeoff icon, the drone obediently follows your instruction and takes off. As I said earlier, Phantom is a bundle of surprises. It is one of the smart quadcopters in the market.
Phantom provides three different flight modes like – sports mode in which you can fly the drone at a high speed of 45 miles per hour and the two smart flying modes like - tap to fly and the obstacle avoidance mode. While flying the drone in the obstacle avoidance mode, the drone can sense the possible crash and halt. Thus phantom 4 is undoubtedly a perfect quadcopter for anyone and everyone irrespective of the level of their drone flying skills. The automatic return feature flies the drone back near the controller by using the GPS positioning system so that the drone is safe even at the hands of an amateur.
Another great autonomous feature offered by the Phantom is its auto track feature. Phantom relays on its GPS system for this subject tracking. The feature comes very useful when you want to record every second of your canoeing, biking or skating. No need to have any professional photographer along with. Phantom 4 will do the job for you.
There are plenty of affordable small camera drones out on the market which is often ideal for only beginners or kids. Usually, with such affordable mini-drones, you get to sacrifice camera quality, flight range and much more.
But Mavic Pro is an exception to this theory. DJI Mavic Pro is a highly portable drone with a great quality camera and many other useful advanced features. The collapsible drone easily slips into a smaller pocket on your backpack or even the water bottle holders.
The compact design along with the autonomous intelligence makes it an evolutionary device.
The quadcopter is easy to fly. You can use the remote control or your Smartphone with DJI Go app installed in it. The remote control features clear LCD display of various flight conditions. While using Smartphone (or tablet), the range of operation will be limited. But it is a nice option to have when you want to carry as less stuffs with you as possible while drone flying. The good part is that you can even connect the remote control and the smartphone so that you can enjoy the benefit of remote control’s fine-grained control over the drone and the app’s live video feed and many autonomous camera settings at the same time.
Mavic pro provides two different flight modes – P mode or the Positioning mode where advanced features like active track and tap fly are enabled. The sports mode is to fly the drone at great speed but remember in sports mode intelligent flight functions are not available.
Now coming to the main aspect that makes Mavic pro every one’s favorite choice, yes, we are referring to the cameras, the Mavic pro has got 12 MP 4K camera that is housed in the 3-axis anti-vibration gimbals. The optional plastic dome provides extra safety to the camera against water or wind.
The list of useful features of Mavic pro simply goes on. The one thing that interested me is its internal cooling fan. It is definitely a well-thought safety feature.
Further to increase flight safety and reliability, the DJI Mavic pro features obstacle avoidance along with the sensor redundancy.
All in all, compact design, super camera quality, amazing intelligent features, the long battery life of 27 minutes, the transmission range of 4.3 miles and GPS vision positioning system make this drone a must buy for every drone enthusiasts.
After the two drones from DJI, it is a hexacopter from Yuneec International that is at number three on our list of top 7 drones with follow me feature. lIke in any products, there are some unique features as well as few limitations of this hexacopter drone.
The first impression of this drone is indeed wow. The unit comes in a neat backpack with extra battery and extra props.
The interesting fact is that the ground station is cleverly designed keeping the user’s needs in mind. Unlike the previous two drones we have discussed, there is no need to connect the drone to your Smartphone or iPad since the all-in-one controller itself is integrated with the seven inch Andriod touch screen.
It is not just nice inside the backpack but real good in flying too. Powered by the Intel Real Sense Technology the hexacopter can easily detect obstacles and navigates intelligently. To make it more user-friendly Yuneec Typhoon H provides the Wizard controller. This cool feature gives us the option to have one person to control the drone while other can control the camera.
The 360-degree rotating camera of the Typhoon H is capable of capturing 12MP photos and 4K HD video. No wonder, Typhoon H was the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) winner for the year 2016. The drone is equipped with safety features like one button fly home and obstacle avoidance and six rotor safety with five rotor fail-safe.
Also, with eight smart flight modes, the drone can fly for a maximum of 25 minutes on a single charge. “Orbit me” is one such autonomous feature the drone has using which the drone can be set to orbit around a particular subject keeping the camera trained on that particular subject.
This hexacopter from Yuncee Typhoon is undoubtedly a well-equipped camera drone that provides some of the cool advanced features making it ideal for every drone hobbyist.
The camera mount looks fragile. For careful handlers, this may not be a concern. Moreover, the replaceable parts are easily available for this model and the unit is also backed by one year warranty. So, it is worth taking the risk anyway.
It is one of the feature rich quadcopters in the market. With GPS technology, the drone can follow you wherever you go keeping its camera focused on you. Thanks to GPS, using the Global Positioning System the drone can also provide one-key return feature. The drone will come back and land in the same place from where it had started that flight.
To provide more safety to the pilot as well as to the drone itself, the quadcopter offers low power protection using which the drone return back and fall in the takeoff place once the battery gets dried out.
With headless mode, it is very easy even for beginners to fly this drone. However, please note that Hubsan H501SX4 is not a toy but is ideal for kids above the age of 14 years. The 6 axis fly control system helps in gliding the drone smoothly like a bird. Hovering the drone is also made easy by the Barometer Altitude mode where the drone maintains the same altitude constantly.
This Hubsan quadcopter is ideal for taking selfies. The 1080P HD camera with the GPS’s ‘follow me’ feature is a too tempting combination for every drone enthusiasts out there. Combining it with the altitude hold mode, you can take great selfies as well.
You can also see what your drone is exactly seeing up in the sky, directly on the controller’s display screen. This First Person View feature makes the quadcopter every drone addicts’ favorite choice. The widescreen of the remote control also displays quadcopter position, its speed, and battery power etc to assist your convenient flight.
Imagine a computer flying up in the sky, capturing your selfies, recording every movement of you, following you wherever you go! Yes, that is what this Solo quadcopter is.
It boasts not just one but two 1GHz computer; one in the remote controller and one in the onboard quadcopter itself. This makes the overall unit highly reliable.
Now, one more interesting factor about Solo quadcopter is that it does not have its own camera. Yes, sorry, but you heard it right. You need to buy GoPro separately and also remember that only the Hero models 3, 3+ and 4 are compatible. Now, we are little confused whether to call it an advantage or an extra burden on customers. Because, if you are a serious photography geek, then we are sure you already have a GoPro. In that case, it is good to go for Solo quadcopter. Secondly, since the quadcopter itself does not have a camera, it is an opportunity in disguise.
You have the flexibility to try out different cameras. After all who wants to be sticking to one thing for a long time. I am referring to (and only to) the drone camera here!!! The third point, thinking about the worst case - if in case you do not have a GoPro and also does not want to spend another $200 and odd on the camera, then it is better to go for Phantom 4, Mavic Pro or other DJI models.
But we strongly believe that this smart drone is built mainly keeping autonomous flight modes in mind and with an aim of producing a great drone that flies faster, easy to use and future-proof. So, even without a built-in camera, the Solo quadcopter stands out in the crowd.
Coming to the main point, that is flying - the Solo quadcopter is like a falcon in the sky. It flies with crazy super speed. In fact, the 3DR Solo is much faster than Phantom and Mavic Pro.
The autonomous features include – orbit me, to revolve within an adjustable radius around a preset object or person to take a complete wrap around shots, follow me that makes the drone follow a particular object and cable cam to fly the drone between two desired points with the camera working smoothly. Solo is capable of taking one-of-a-kind computer-assisted smart shots with a great level of precision.
The intuitive remote control is worth to mention here. If you were a video game addict during your school days, then the remote control of this Solo quadcopter makes you nostalgic. It is because the controller of the drone is very much intuitive similar to a video game controller.
You can also use your iOS or Andriod powered smartphones to operate the drone by using the App. The App provides full control over the quadcopter and even the GoPro.
To sum it up, if you are ok with spending extra money on the GoPro or you already have one then there are no major gripes. You can go for this intelligent quadcopter. Otherwise, Phantom 4 or Mavic Pro would be a good choice.
Wow, it is the second Yuneec drone in our best in class drone list. Like the other Yuneec drone we reviewed earlier in this post, this Yuneec Q500+ is also a well built sophisticated RTF (ready to fly) quadcopter.
The camera of Q500+ is not just an image capturing system but a total aerial imaging solution. The three-axis gimbal camera can take 16MP still photos and great quality videos at 60 frames per second.The 16-megapixel high definition camera is capable of recording amazing quality videos. The image distortion is also minimized with the unique re-designed camera lens.
That is the beauty of Yuneec products, the design and redesign till the customers are happy with their products.
Now, talking about the ground station unit i.e., the Yuneec’s ST10+ remote control, it is not just a transmitter but a powerful all-in-one design. The 5.5 inches touchscreen displays all the telemetry readings. First Person View function lets you see what exactly the drone is seeing in real time on the screen. The ST10+ remote control also gives visual as well as tactile low battery warning.
Yet another entry to the long list of features offered by Q500+ is the “follow me” option. Using this feature you can set the drone to follow the transmitter location. It is perfect to take the video recording of your boating, jogging, cycling or trekking.
For those serious photography enthusiasts, the Yuneec Q500+ has still a lot to offer. By downloading the CGO2+ App on your Android or iOS-powered mobile phone, you can even enjoy the luxury of real-time image transmission. With the stable gimbal, camera features are all highly reliable and precise control accuracy can be achieved each time.
If you want to have a great flying experience as well as some serious photography at the same time, then Yuneec Q500+ will not disappoint you. The real good camera with stable gimbal along with the GPS follow me feature and the intuitive all-in-one design of the ground station is undoubtedly a great combination to have. Compared to Phantom, the Q500+ gives great stability for flying as well as photography.
Wow, the combination of classic golden and white color makes the drone look very beautiful. Even after crash landing, you may not feel like throwing it away? No no, when we say this, don’t think the drone is fragile. In fact, the powerful brushless motor ensures the durability of the drone. Jokes apart, let us see how sturdy and easy flying drone it is. And we have featured Hubsan 501S in this list because it's one of the best picks for camera drones that follow you.
Well, first thing first; the Hubsan 501S is not going to cost much. $300 odd is not a big deal when you consider the long list of features it can offer.
So let us get started.
We would like to mention the GPS enabled failsafe mode. Because it is really a useful and in fact a very useful feature especially for beginners or while flying in bad weather. In failsafe mode, if the connection from the remote control is last, the flight control system will automatically control the quadcopter and fly the drone back to its original takeoff place and land it.
Since we already mention that the drone is GPS enabled, the features like follow me and return home are all present in this Hubsan quadcopter.
With the follow me mode, you can enjoy your regular outdoor activities and taking photos/videos are all taken care by the drone that follows you wherever you go. Assuming that you are all well aware of the straightforward feature - ‘return home’, we will go ahead discussing the next interesting aspect of the drone.
Now, coming to the transmitter unit, nothing but the remote controller; it has 4.3 inches LCD display. This not only comes handy to know different flight parameters while flying but gives a real good fun-filled experience of First-Person-View in real time. The ability to see what the drone is able to see high up in the sky on the wide screen of the device in your hand is definitely going to bring a smile to your face.
It is a great deal of technology for this price tag. If you are looking for decent flying experience and camera quality but not ready to burn your pocket, then close your eyes and chose Monoprice Hubsan quadcopter. It is indeed an amazing drone. However, the Hubsan 501S cannot be compared with the advanced follow me drones that feature many autonomous features. If you are serious drone addict and ready to spend more then go for high-end products with many available smart features.
This article is brought to you by Drone Trends’s Editorial team. Drone Trends team is passionate about drones and quadcopters.