Follow me drones are perfect when you want to get action footage of yourself skiing, cycling, snowboarding, running or even surfing.
I highly recommend DJI Phantom 3 Standard which produces a smooth and crystal clear “follow me” video of your stunts at a really good price. It has an impressive flight time of around 25 minutes and it is very easy for beginners to use.
3DR Solo is also a great follow drone, and it is perfect to use with a GoPro camera. It has a flight time of around 25 minutes, and Solo has some very cool aerial video functions like cable cam, selfie and wraparound shots.
Top of the line is the newly released DJI Phantom 4. The only drone in our list with obstacle avoidance, that automatically avoids power lines, trees etc. It also has a superior flight time of 28 minutes, and a 4K 30fps camera.
#1 DJI Phantom 3 Standard
– Best Value –
The Drones from DJI are really setting the standard in the drone world, and they offer the best quality vs price ration right now, making the Phantom 3 one of the best follow me drones.
When it comes to specifications and technical characteristics, here are some of the most important ones:
- Weight of 1216 grams
- Maximum ascent speed of five meters per second and maximum descend speed of three meters per second
- Maximum speed in the air of 16 meters per second
- Flight time with one battery reaches approximately 25 minutes
- There’s a built-in GPS system and a return home feature
- 2.7K video recording mode, HD (1280x720p), image maximum size of 4,000 x 3,000
- Control via the DJI GO mobile app (compatible with both iOS and Android devices)
DJI Phantom 3 will deliver an excellent performance when the Follow Me functionality is engaged. The drone uses Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) to do accurate positioning in the Follow Me mode. Because of this system, the drone will remain hovering at the same position in the air and having the camera follow/track a subject.
DJI Phantom 3 Standard, Advanced or Professional?
The technology is available in all three of the DJI Phantom 3 models – standard, advanced and professional. The Standard is the cheapest of the three models, and the main difference between them is the quality of the camera.
Make no mistake, the camera on the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is very good, with crystal clear footage, but professionals in the field and commercial users might want the best available, and then the Advanced and Professional provide a bit more.
Great for Beginners
DJI Phantom 3 has follow me technology that’s incredibly user-friendly and great for beginners. The controls of the Phantom 3 are also intuitive and easy to master.
Everything about the drone is constructed with beginners in mind, and there has been a very successful effort to make everything about the DJI Phantom 3 very accessible and easy for new drone users.
Follow Me is just one of the cool functionalities that DJI Phantom 3 features, you also get intelligent modes like Waypoints (a feature that records a certain flight path), Point of Interest (automatically revolving around an object or a subject), Home Lock (all flight controls are relative to the pilot’s position) and Course Lock (all flight controls are locked in relationship to the current course).
Phantom 3 Standard Follow Me Mode Test | Longboarding by YEEBMX
#2 DJI Phantom 4
– Outstanding Tech –
DJI Phantom 4
The newly released DJI Phantom 4 lives up to the hype. The flight time is extended to 28 minutes, which is almost unheard of for a prosumer drone. It also comes with an advanced form of obstacle avoidance, which can be very useful in certain environments when you are using the follow me mode on the drone. It is also fast, 20 m/s vs 16 m/s of the Phanom 3 Standard and Advanded/Professional.
- Weight of 1380 grams
- Maximum ascend speed of six meters per second and maximum descend speed of four meters per second
- Maximum speed of 20 meters per second in the air
- Flight time of approximately 28 minutes with a single battery
- Built-in GPS system
- Obstacle sensory range of two to 49 meters
- Maximum image size of 3,000 x 4,000 and HD video recording mode (1280x720p)
The biggest difference between Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 is that the newer model comes equipped with an intelligent camera. It can automatically produce seamless tracking shots, it can fly around obstacles and it can react to the specifics of the environment.
The obstacle avoidance can be a huge benefit when using the follow me mode, and this ability sets the Phantom 4 apart from most of the drones on this list.
The Follow Me mode is similar to what DJI Phantom 3 can do.
One of the biggest benefit of the commercial drone Phantom 4 is the increased flight time that enables the camera to track a subject for longer and create more pictures or a longer video clip.
#3 3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter
– Use with GoPro –
3DR Solo Quadcopter
The Solo from 3DR is a new release, and it is marketed as the worlds first smart drone.
Advertised as “the first drone with a brain,” 3DR Solo is powered by twin computers for a more intelligent performance. It also features incredibly intuitive controls, making it perfect for the newbies in the world of drones and quadcopters.
The 3DR Solo specs include the following:
- Weight of 1500 grams (it increases to 1800 grams through the addition of gimbal and a GoPro camera)
- Maximum ascend speed of 10 meters per second
- Maximum speed in the air of 89 kilometers per hour
- Flight time of 25 minutes
- Maximum payload of 420 grams
- Battery charging time of approximately 1.5 hours
Solo has several intelligent control modes, the Follow Me mode, Orbit, Cable Cam and Selfie.
The Solo claimed to be the world’s first smart drone. And it undeniable has some very cool features that makes it popular with both commercial users and regular users.
The intelligent computer system allows for angle, distance and perspective changes while the drone is in flight. The result is a more detailed clip that features smooth transitions and movement.
#4 3D Robotics 3DR IRIS+ Multicopter
– Use with GoPro –
3DR IRIS+ (915) Quadcopter
The 3DR IRIS+ is the predecessor to the SOLO, and you can get it a bit cheaper than the SOLO. It comes without a camera but the quadcopter is compatible with GoPro equipment.
- Maximum ascend speed of 10 meters per second
- Maximum speed in the air of approximately 25 meters per second
- Payload of 400 grams
- Flight time of up to 22 minutes
- Operating range of 1,000 meters
- Integrated GPS system with a manometer
- Integrated GoPro camera mount featuring a vibration dampener
- Battery charging time of approximately one hour
IRIS+ features an advanced Follow Me mode and all of the parameters can be set through a tablet. It’s also compatible with any GPS-enabled Android device. Apart from following a subject, the smart technology controls the gimbal to reduce shakiness and produce steady, smooth shots.
The smart technology of the IRIS+ enables the drone to keep the subject being followed in the center of the frame at all times and it is ideal for outdoor sports and extreme adventure enthusiasts.
One small shortcoming to keep in mind is that the drone doesn’t have the capability to go around obstacles. When the Follow Me mode is enabled, the course chosen will have to be relatively free from tall obstacles that the drone could potentially bump into.
#5 Hubsan H501S X4 Brushless FPV Ready to Fly Quadcopter
– Best Budget Follow Drone –
Hubsan H501S X4
This GPS-enabled quadcopter is designed for the needs of beginners in the exciting world of follow me drones. It is also much more affordable than some of the other drones in this list, which makes it a great starting drone for first-time pilots.
Hubsan H501S X4 has:
- Flight control distance of 300 meters
- Maximum flight time of 20 minutes
- Battery charging time of 150 minutes
- 5.8G wireless video transmission
- Built-in HD camera (1280x720p)
- Automatic return to home function
- Six-axis gyro
- Weight of the quadcopter (battery included) is 410 grams
The built-in GPS system enables the quadcopter to follow a subject around. The feature can be enabled when both the quadcopter and the transmitter sync with at least six satellites. This is a safety measure that’s needed to keep the quadcopter properly positioned at all times.
#6 AirDog Auto-Follow Drone
– Great for Water Sports –
AirDog Auto-Follow Drone
If you want a drone to follow you surfing, water-skiing, or enjoying other forms of water sports, this might be your best bet.
Although the AirDog is not officially waterproof, according to reports you can dump it in the water without problems.
The wrist controller is waterproof, so you can control it while you are on the water, surfing, skiing etc.
Another option for water sports would be the Lily drone, which is supposed to be waterproof, but at the time of writing it is not yet shipping, and I dont yet know the price. AirDog carries a higher price tag than most other drones on this list, but if you will be doing lots of water activities it is worth it.
The AirDog was actually launched after the completion of a successful crowdfunding campaign. It’s especially created for the needs of extreme sports and outdoor adventure enthusiasts. AirDog Auto-Follow Drone is foldable and very small, which gives it competitive advantage over the other follow drones.
- Weight of 1,980 grams
- Maximum speed in the air of 68 kilometers per hour
- 18 minutes of flight time
- Wind resistance for air currents having speed of up to 14 meters per second
- Long-range Bluetooth connectivity
- Compatibility with GoPro cameras
- Operational range of up to 250 meters
When it comes to the Follow Me feature, AirDog is capable of doing two things. It can stay behind and capture the action or go in front of the subject. There’s a wearable device included in the kit that’s used to control the drone. With the press of a button, you can send AirDog to the starting location. The drone will land and wait for you to pick it up in the end of the adventure.
AirDog has Ground Collision Avoidance, but I do not think that includes obstacle avoidance, but they are working on a community driven obstacle avoidance solution that will be software based. It will be available as an upgrade later in 2016.
#7 Ehang Ghost Drone 2.0 Aerial
Ehang Ghost 2.0 is another drone created after a successful fundraising online. It is marketed as being extremely easy to fly. There is no RC controller, instead you control it with your smartphone. It now includes a 4K camera, but I assume it is still compatible with GoPro Hero.
If you set it to night mode it will use LED-lights so that you can track it better.
- Maximum ascend speed of 2.5 meters per second, maximum descend speed of 1.5 meters per second
- Maximum speed in the air of 40 kilometers per hour
- Maximum flight time of 25 minutes
- Bluetooth connectivity (with Android devices) and wi-fi connectivity with iOS devices
- A smart flight battery that charges approximately one hour
Follow Me Functionality
When it comes to the Follow Me functionality, it’s once again based on GPS positioning. Keep in mind that Ghost 2.0 doesn’t have an obstacle sensor, which means you should use it in an open area. There’s a G BOX that the subject should wear at all times, allowing for accurate tracking.
“No Fault” Accident Protection
The Ghost drone has a really good warranty program. They will repair or replace your drone three times as long as the warranty of one year is running, it will be free of charge, and for any reason. They also cover all the shipping costs.
#8 Lily Camera
It’s as simple as throwing the Lily Camera in the air and getting started. Or at least that’s what the manufacturer claims. Lily Camera relies on computer vision to perform autonomous flights.
Here are the specs:
- Weight of 1,300 grams
- Maximum speed in the air of 40 kilometers per hour
- 20 minutes of flight time
- A battery that will charge in approximately two hours
- Waterproof design that enables the capturing of water sports
- Control range of 100 meters
- Video resolution of 1080x720p, photo resolution of 12MP, digital gimbal and image stabilization
- Lily App compatible with both iOS and Android devices
The subject that is to be filmed using the Follow Me mode should wear the Lily tracking device. There’s no controller required, as long as the tracker is being used correctly. Just like a few of the other entries in the list, Lily doesn’t have obstacle avoidance.
Lily is currently not shipping, but you can preorder it at https://www.lily.camera/.
It is expected to start deliver in September 2016.
Using the Follow Me Mode
Keep in mind that using the Follow Me mode is usually a bit more challenging than what’s presented in ads.
GPS tracking leaves some margin for error. You should probably get started in a larger open space. Doing a few video clips and checking whether the subject is positioned centrally will give you a better idea about the accuracy and the adjustments that will have to be made.
Regardless of the fact that the drones require no control in the follow me mode, it’s still a good idea to go through the manual and make sure that you stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations. There could be some specific adjustments to make in the beginning of the flight that will maximize accuracy and the clarity of the shots.
Follow me drones present you with an awesome way to make action footage of your adventure, whether you are skiing, surfing, kiteboarding, snowboarding, cycling, running or just shooting the action at the skate-park.