Auto-Follow Drones Table of Contents
- FAQ’s about follow me drones
- 7 Best Auto Follow Drones Review
- #1 3D Robotics Iris+ Auto Follow Drone
- Hexo+ Auto Follow Drone
- Airdog Auto Follow Drone
- The Follow Me Sports Drone by Flypro
- Hubsan 501S Brushless Quadcopter
- Ehang Ghost drone 2.0
As drones become more and more complex, there are many different features that users can pick from. Having a drone camera that follows you has a special appeal for those in the filming and videography realm: the pilot can lock the drones direction on a very specified moving target.
After the pilot selects this function, the drone will then follow the target without needing to use the pilot’s input for control, by use of sensors, and software that allows the device to lock in on certain objects. While this feature is activated, the individual flying can focus on their own choice of creative photo and video elements, not having to worry about the duties of stabilizing flight.
Some of the other benefits of a self-following drone are for easier filming of action sports: a subject such as a mountain biker or skateboarder can be followed with this feature, and having the perspective from overhead will really add to the richness of the clip. When a drone follows you from overhead, everything from jumps you are taking, marathon steps you are running through, or obstacles you are grinding on or flying over with a skateboard will really come to life.
FAQ’s about follow me drones
What does auto follow drone mean?
An auto-follow drone is a uav that has the very useful feature which allows for a bit more freedom in the creative realm. It has the ability to use very high technology to fixate on a moving object, so the pilot does not have to spend time and effort worrying about the navigation of the craft. The subject being followed could be a person, plane, biker, runner, pet having fun, or athlete in training or performance.
How Fast can a Follow Me Drone Fly?
An average speed of an auto follow drone is around 25 MPH. That is what is clocked for the Ehang Ghostdrone; other units will vary slightly.
How does a drone that follows you have the ability to track you?
The way this technology works is that the device sends its location to the drone, and as the object begins to move, the drone closely tracks the object’s coordinates. It is not truly seeing an object, it is following according to map coordinates that it is given.
7 Best Auto Follow Drones Review
3D Robotics Iris+ Auto Follow Drone
One of the first companies to announce a “follow-me camerabot” was 3D Robotics with its Follow Me – 3DR’s 3rd Person View (3PV) Follow Me technology which turns your Iris+ into your own hands-free aerial camera crew that puts you in the middle of your own adventure. The Iris+ can be easily setup to follow and film a customer carrying any GPS enabled Android device. Not only will the Iris+ follow you, but this advanced technology controls the gimbal as well to keep the camera centered on the user, capturing sweeping cinematic video from a perspective unlike any other.
What we really like about the Iris+ is Automatic Mission Planning enable by the free DroidPlanner software. Iris+ users can plan flights by simply drawing a flight plan on any Android tablet or phone. This allows for hands free flight control. Your drone will go where you tell it to go, with virtually unlimited waypoints and even keep IRIS+ pointing to the same location via a Region of Interest (ROI) waypoint throughout the entire flight. This enables fun autonomous journeys, and automatically stabilized video capture that would be otherwise impossible.
The first caveat we see here at Dronethusiast.com is the fact that Iris+ will follow your phone. This can come in handy, but has limitations also.
Imagine wanting to take footage while surfing as depicted in the promo video:
Of course you can have the drone follow your – otherwise amazing – Pebble watch, but if you don’t otherwise need one, it is an extra cost. The other caveat is one where other contenders in this field also lack: obstacle avoidance. The videos of the drones that follow you show ideal situations in wide open spaces, but imagine riding down the road on your bike and watching your bird slamming into a tree or hitting power lines. The first real attempt for a functioning obstacle avoidance system we have seen is that of Plexidrone‘s but at this point in time that is a promise. A good promise though, we are sure that the main players will introduce this function in their next releases.
The Iris+ promises 16-22 minutes of flight time which is decent, but nothing extraordinary.
Generally, we are anticipating 3D Robotics to fork out some innovative technology as they are a US company, they have strong financial backing and attracted many top professionals from current market leader DJI.
Hexo+ Auto Follow Drone
While the Iris+ is a general quadcopter platform with the follow-me function added, Hexo+ was purpose built for this niche. Their Kickstarter campaign well exceeded the set goal of a mere $50.000 (which must have been set deliberately low to avoid failure) and brought in more than $1.3 Million for the team. The other main difference is that the Hexo+ is a hexacopter (has six rotors instead of four) which adds a lot on the safety front by being a bit more redundant and less prone to motor failure.
Here is what the team claims: Deciding how you want your aerial camera to frame your shot is ridiculously intuitive. The interactive live view feed of your camera’s point of view lets you pinch to set the distance between your subject and your drone, slide laterally for panning and vertically for height. You can shoot from front, back, sides, above and everywhere in between. All you need is your smartphone plus three intuitive gestures and you’re set.
Ok, great but this picture exactly shows the setback. It’s kind of cumbersome to be tapping on a small smartphone screen in action, not to mention if there is an emergency and you have to play swipedy swipe to react. Having gloves on can be problematic too, unless they are “touchscreen gloves”.
There is one aspect where the Hexo+ shine and that is speed. It can reach up to 70 km/h – 45 mph top speed to track even the fastest subject. And let’s be honest, that is a pretty obvious must. Imagine riding your dirt bike trying to make that awesome backflip and your drone can’t keep up with you. We have not been able to find the top speed of the Iris+, so we can only suspect that it is not a particularly fast bird. The Hexo+ promises 15 minutes of flight time, which is pretty basic, unless they are a lot more humble in this aspect than other manufacturers and promote the net flying time, not something that was measured among ideal conditions and indoors.
Airdog Auto Follow Drone
We have to admit that our staff pick would definitely be Airdog, if we were to consider a sports action camerabot. Also having a successful Kickstarter under their belt, the team raked together a similar $1.3 Million from backers.
Airdog is the hard core contender in this field and the main difference is Airleash, their water proof, ruggedized controller wristband offering long range connectivity of 1000 feet (300 meters) and extreme ease of use. It’s also designed to conveniently attach to your bike handle, your helmet, backpack, and more and that makes this controller really stand out. It does not have large shiny gorilla glass screen, but including that would not have been possible. You can use your smartphone if you need a screen.
Airdog is also foldable, so it is easy to store which is important for something you will want to take outdoors in a backpack. As far as recording modes go, Airdog has a nifty Relative position follow setup. In this mode AirDog will maintain constant offset relative to magnetic north from the rider.
For example, you can set it to keep a 10 meter distance at 4 meters high to the east from your position. Even when you change your direction, the AirDog will stay at the same preset angle from you. We suggest this mode for straight line wakeboard cable parks, surfing, and some other sports. It can also be set up in Follow Track mode. This is the safest way to operate AirDog. Simply go for one lap with AirLeash and it will record your track. Then adjust AirDogs trajectory to your liking in smartphone app. AirDog will repeatedly fly over the exact set trajectory and the camera will be continually adjusted to aim at the rider. This is the most creative mode where you can become a true director of your movie. Setting the trajectory also helps you to avoid obstacles like buildings or trees, so in lack of obstacle avoidance, this still helps you make safe flight recordings. Of course this is only possible on a small course, it would not make sense to do a dry run of 10 mile bike ride just for this purpose before you do the real thing.
Other than the above, the Airdog offers the same basic functionality as the other two players, but if you are looking for a real flying action cam, your best bet is Airdog. Top speed for your aerial canine friend is set to a limit of 40 MPH maximum. We were wondering how fast could it fly without this limitation and if there is a way to “jailbreak” the drone to get higher speeds.
Interestingly, Airdog and 3D Robotics are associated. The two companies signed a cooperation contract where several of AirDog’s key engineers will be transitioning into the 3DR labs in order to collaborate closely with 3DR on advanced drone technologies. What this tells us is that there could be a takeover or at least some “acquihiring” on the horizon as 3DR is a much larger company.
In general, we will be watching this niche very closely as it is a real fun application of drones. At the same time, it is probably only time, before the real big players like DJI gets involved in this. We can just hope that the smaller players get acquired, rather than going belly up because we would really miss these guys and their birds in the sky.
The Follow Me Sports Drone by Flypro
This is a UAV built with a drone camera that follows you for the action shot, and the technology within this one lets it automatically follow your every move. We really like the aerodynamic design: it looks a bit like the Dji Mavic does when it’s completely unfolded and ready to fly. This drone truly acts as a personal photographer, with a flight time maxing out at 22 minutes.
It handily comes with a 4K Ultra HD sports camera: there is no need to purchase an additional one to attach to the drone. The “Xwatch” controller fits onto your arm or wrist, and easily allows you to take charge of the position, altitude, and speed while monitoring important flight stats at the same time.
The built-in GPS and dual compasses are a great help for guidance, and this drone will return to its base when the battery is running low. The maximum altitude on this auto follow drone is a pretty lofty 16,000 ft, and it is sure to be a front-running choice for those who want to document action sports.
Auto follow Drone Hubsan 501S Brushless Quadcopter
The Monoprice Hubsan 501S Brushless Quadcopter Drone is half the price of the Follow Me sports drone, but the main reason is because the video resolution is 1080p instead of 4K. This has a pretty cool gold and white appearance, and a flight time of around 20 minutes.
Each motor is constructed with powerful and very durable technology, and the self-tightening propellers ensure a smooth flight. This drone follow me option works on a 5.8Ghz signal, and you can use the very popular shark FPV goggles to view the fun.
This drone also does not have obstacle avoidance, but for the price, you get something fun that you can use for sports such as mountain biking and rollerblading, or to capture the thrills of a downhill skier.
Auto Follow Ehang Ghost drone 2.0
The Ehang Ghostdrone 2.0 Aerial with 4K Sports Camera is a drone that follows you with a 4K camera, and boasting an “Avatar Control” for a new type of flight control. You simply download the EHANG play app, and can then have the drone move based on the tilt of your smartphone.
Just as happens with any piece of equipment, there have been a few reports of batteries not lasting long enough with this drone, but it can be very hard to pinpoint exactly what happened with a specific batch. Their warranty seems unique as well: it’s a fairly one-of-a-kind program that includes “No fault” protection. They will repair or replace the Ghostdrone up to three times during the period for any reason free of charge.
Even though the Ehang drone does come with the perk of a 4K camera, the pilot looking to get self following drone footage may want to go with a brand such as Hubsan that has put together many different models, at many different price ranges and skill sets. Nonetheless, Ehang has been at it for awhile now, and the ease of flight factor could win many over.