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From professional filmmakers and content creators to hobbyists, pilots always look for good drones capable of extraordinary filming and flight performance with as many features as possible.
Drones that are capable of following the pilot and using intelligent features are not fiction anymore.
What are the best follow-me drones in 2023?
The top consumer drone with the most advanced follow-me features is the DJI Mavic 3 Pro. Drones like DJI Air 2S, DJI Mini 3 Pro, and Autel EVO 2 Pro V3 also work seamlessly with ActiveTrack and Dynamic Track characteristics, allowing the drone to follow the pilot and avoid obstacles autonomously.
There are many drones with follow-me mode, and if you’re still deciding which to choose, you’re in luck.
We’ll share with you the best follow-me drones and a comprehensive guide and tutorial.
1. DJI Mavic 3 Pro #
SPECSDJI Mavic 3 ProWeight958 gSize231.1×98×95.4 mm folded without propellersMax Flight Time43 minsObstacle Avoidance SensorsAn omnidirectional binocular vision system Follow-Me ModeYes, ActiveTrack 5.0 with 3D object detectionOther Intelligent FeaturesAPAS 5.0, Hyperlapse, Cruise Control, QuickShots, MasterShots, FocusTrack, Spotlight, Point of Interest, and Advanced Return-to-Home function**Camera ****Hasselblad: **4/3-inch CMOS that can record in 5.1k at 50 frames per second and 4k at 120 frames per second. It can capture 20-megapixel photographs.Medium Tele: 1/1.3-inch CMOS that can record in 4k at 60 frames per second. It can capture 48-megapixel photographs.**Tele Camera: **1/2-inch CMOS that can record in 4k at 60 frames per second and can photograph in 12-megapixel resolution.
✅ Pros #
- It has one of the most advanced ActiveTrack functions with a follow-me mode of all consumer drones and is capable of 3D object detection
- This drone comes with omnidirectional anti-collision sensors that protect the drone from potential collisions at any angle
- It comes with an advanced return to home and several advanced intelligent features
- It can fly for a long time before depleting the battery
- It has three fantastic cameras, from a large sensor Hasselblad to a telephoto camera capable of shooting 28x hybrid zoom
- The flight performance is outstanding
- It’s compatible with DJI RC and DJI RC Pro
- It’s an excellent beginner-friendly drone
❌ Cons #
- It’s expensive
- Using the follow-me mode and intelligent features can be intimidating
The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is currently the king of drones when looking at intelligent features such as follow-me mode, obstacle avoidance to keep the drone safe, and other advanced features.
Released recently and despite its high price, this drone quickly reached the top of one of the most professional consumer drones you can buy.
From wildlife telephotos to capturing cityscapes, the Mavic 3 Pro can do them all, and with the current ActiveTrack 5.0, you can benefit from very advanced drone technology in 2023.
2. DJI Air 2S #
SPECSDJI Air 2SWeight595 gSize180×97×77 mm foldedMax Flight Time31 minsObstacle Avoidance SensorsFrontal, backward, upward, and downwardFollow-Me ModeYes, with ActiveTrack 4.0Other Intelligent FeaturesSpotlight, Point of Interest, Quickshots, Hyperlapse, Return to Home(Intelligent Flight Modes)**Camera **1-inch CMOS sensor capable of filming in 5.4k at 30 frames per second and photographing in 20-megapixel resolution.
✅ Pros #
- Capable of using ActiveTrack (trace) and following subjects at incredible speeds up to 39 miles per hour, with the drone flying at 27 miles per hour
- It has four-way obstacle avoidance sensors
- It comes with many intelligent functions to help you acquire the shots you need
- It has a large 1-inch camera sensor capable of filming and photographing professionally
- It has good performance and can stay in the air for a decent amount of time
- The price of the drone is reasonable
- It has APAS 4.0
❌ Cons #
- It’s already an older drone
- It does not have side sensors
- It does not have advanced ActiveTrack 5.0
DJI Air 2S is one of the most underrated drones capable of professionally capturing extraordinary videos and photographs.
» MORE: DJI Air 2S Intelligent Flight Modes
It’s one great drone under $1,000 with excellent follow-me mode capabilities, perfect for vloggers and content creators.
Although it’s an older drone, the Air 2S is still an excellent pick. It has an outstanding flight performance and a decent number of intelligent features.
Regarding all available features, the Air 2S is between the DJI Mini 3 Pro and Mavic 3 Pro.
3. DJI Mini 3 Pro #
SPECSDJI Mini 3 ProWeight249 gSize145×90×62 mm foldedMax Flight TimeForward, backward, and downward anti-collision sensors.Obstacle Avoidance SensorsForward, backward, and downward anti-collision sensorsFollow-Me ModeYes, with ActiveTrack 4.0 and APAS 4.0Other Intelligent FeaturesFocusTrack, Hyperlapse, MasterShots, and Quichshots. It has a return-to-home function.**Camera **1/1.3-inch CMOS capable of filming in 4k at 60 frames per second and photographing at a resolution of 48 megapixels
✅ Pros #
- It has a tremendously capable follow-me mode to seamlessly track a subject
- It has three-way avoidance sensors
- It’s capable of flying for a long time, in particular with the Intelligent Battery Plus
- It’s compatible with DJI RC
- It has an excellent transmission range
- It’s lightweight and portable and may benefit from relaxed drone laws and regulations
- It has several intelligent functions
- The price is reasonable
❌ Cons #
- It’s already an older drone
- It does not have upward or side sensors
- ActiveTrack 4.0 is inferior to version 5.0 found in Mavic drones
As one of the cheapest drones on our list, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is one of the most known drones of all time, with many pleased drone pilots loving its capabilities and performance.
» MORE: DJI Mini 3 Pro Intelligent Flight Modes
This drone benefits from an excellent ActiveTrack and follow-me mode that has been tested endlessly and has faced many challenges with vivacity.
Note: Please beware that with the Intelligent Battery Plus, the Mini 3 Pro will exceed the 250-gram barrier and will no longer benefit from the relaxed drone laws mentioned above.
4. Autel EVO 2 Pro V3 #
SPECSAutel EVO 2 Pro V3Weight1,187 gSize231x130x109mm foldedMax Flight Time40 minsObstacle Avoidance SensorsOmnidirectional sensing systemFollow-Me ModeYes, with dynamic tracking and parallel trackingOther Intelligent FeaturesHyperlapse; You can plan waypoints and flight routes**Camera **1-inch CMOS camera sensor capable of filming in 6k at 30 frames per second or 4k at 60 frames per second.This camera can also photograph at a resolution of 20 megapixels
✅ Pros #
- It’s a high-end professional drone capable of delivering extraordinary videos and images during the day and at night
- It has advanced follow-me modes with dynamic track and parallel track, capable of high accuracy and speeds
- It has omnidirectional anti-collision sensors
- It’s capable of long flights with an excellent long-range transmission system
- It comes with a smart remote controller with an incorporated screen
- Can livestream
- Excellent wind resistance capabilities
- This drone comes in a rich bundle with three batteries and extra accessories
- It does not have any geofencing restriction software
❌ Cons #
- It’s expensive, and many professional drone pilots may opt for the DJI Mavic 3 Pro instead
- This drone can also be intimidating to fly
- Competitor camera drones come with larger sensors
As a non-DJI drone, the Autel EVO 2 Pro (v3, released in 2023) is a high-end professional drone with incredible video and photo capabilities, flight time, excellent flight performance, and an advanced follow-me mode.
This drone also excels in low-light and night photography and filming and has omnidirectional anti-collision sensors that work like a charm.
What is a follow-me mode on a drone? #
Follow-me mode is a function that allows a drone to fly autonomously and keep a fixed position in relation to the pilot or a moving object and perform independent functions.
As filmmakers and content creators, we need these functions for the drone to follow us independently, which is fantastic for vlogging and capturing immersive B-roll footage.
A drone can follow you in two ways: with AI image recognition capabilities and sensors or with GPS positioning.
Still, the most common ones are related to actively tracking the subject and not a GPS that acts as a ground station.
How does the follow-me mode work? #
The drone will use different types of sensors and AI recognition software to keep track of the subject while pursuing it independently, on top of the possibility of relaying our position via the controller’s active GPS coordinates.
ActiveTrack in DJI drones uses several features, from GPS and visual positioning to obstacle detection and anti-collision sensors on drones to craft a perfect scenario where the drone autonomously follows the pilot.
Now let’s have a look over the two ways a drone can follow you, shall we?
GPS positioning #
When your remote controller is connected to the mobile phone, or you have the DJI RC (with an incorporated screen), you will acquire several GPS satellites before you take off. So does the drone via its internal GPS module.
The drone will remain in constant communication with the remote controller, and based on internal sensors and AI calculation, together with the precise location of the GPS, the drone knows where it is at all times and where you are.
If you activate the follow-me feature to follow the remote controller, this feature will use all the information mentioned above and GPS location to stay at a fixed distance from the pilot.
So, for instance, if you’re driving your car down a long road and the remote controller is in the car, the drone will follow the vehicle. If you give it to someone else, it will follow that person because they have the remote controller.
The problem is that if you want to follow someone else with this feature and hold the remote controller, you can’t (e.g., a friend who goes mountain biking).
Also, if your drone or remote controller loses the GPS signal, the drone will stop following you.
But nowadays, there is plenty of GPS coverage everywhere.
If I want to use this feature, I always check the UAV Forecast app on my phone to show me the weather and how many satellites are locked in my area.
If it’s not enough, I will get a warning “Not Good to Fly” before I even take out my drone.
Visual recognition #
This is the advanced stuff that a drone (let’s take, for instance, the DJI Mini 3 Pro) uses to follow a moving subject. It can be you, and it can be anyone, just not the pilot.
The technology behind it is more complicated and is advancing each year with enhanced AI recognition software, better sensors, and components that ultimately contribute to this feature.
ActiveTrack 4.0, from the DJI Mini 3 Pro, has two dynamic ways to perform this function: Trace and Parallel.
Trace is the most used and known subfeature of ActiveTrack 4.0 that will seamlessly follow a person or car (and more) from behind that you select on your phone screen when the drone is in the air.
Then you can use the remote controller gimbals to position the drone closer or farther to the subject to find a relative position you would like.
Be aware if you’re using parallel mode with the Mini 3 Pro (for example), because this doesn’t have side sensors, the drone will follow you from the side.
And because it doesn’t have side sensors, with this function, the drone is more susceptible to crashing.
When ActiveTrack mode is on, its anti-collision sensors work to detect objects from afar.
When getting too close, the drone will slow down and take a new path to avoid collisions and continue following you (depending on your drone settings).
The downside of using visual recognition tech to follow a subject is that if the lighting is poor (evenings or nights), follow-me mode won’t work correctly or at all.
» MORE: Follow-me and ActiveTrack on DJI Drones**.**
What to consider when choosing a drone with follow-me mode? #
The type of drone: Cheaper or more expensive? It’s only logical that more costly drones, such as the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, will have the most advanced parts, sensors, and cameras (and ActiveTrack 5.0 + APAS 5.0) to help the drone follow you seamlessly.This is the core value that is going to determine how good the ActiveTrack with the follow-me mode is.
**Obstacle avoidance sensors: **If you want to enjoy the follow-me feature with little risk involved, you should consider acquiring a drone with obstacle avoidance sensors.There are drones with ActiveTrack but not any obstacle avoidance sensors, and if something gets in the way of the drone, it will surely crash.
**The drone brand: **The most known drone brand, undoubtedly, is DJI. They may have features you like or don’t like, particularly related to the follow-me function.Autel Robotics also produces extraordinary drones with follow-me mode.
**Camera quality: **As much of the other factors, camera capability matters greatly when we use the visual part of AI recognition.
The main reason we buy a drone is to film and photograph, to capture immersive images of our world, wherever its landscapes, cities, wildlife, or more.
The camera sensor of a drone will decide what kind of content you can produce in terms of quality.
Tips to have a seamless experience with follow-me mode #
If you’re using ActiveTrack based on image recognition, your drone should be at a close or medium range from you. It may fail to focus and track the subject while moving if it’s too far.
Suppose you’re just starting to use such features. In that case, you should experiment with a drone in an open field, including all the intelligent functions based on the follow-me mode, to learn how to adjust and properly use it.
Never assume that the anti-collision sensors will avoid 100 percent of every obstacle on the way when using the follow-me mode, in particular if you fly in zones with small obstacles (e.g., in a forest, there are lots of small branches these sensors may fail to detect).
Activate the subject scanning option on DJI drones to help recognize the subject it follows to adjust for the best controls when it autonomously uses this function.You can activate it from Settings > Control.
Obstacle avoidance may not work in vertical mode for some DJI drones.
What else do we need to know about drones with follow-me mode? #
In many scenarios, a drone with follow-me mode and anti-collision sensors will stop and hover, awaiting pilot inputs if it’s impossible to avoid obstacles.
You can manually control the distance between the followed subject and the drone and the altitude by using the gimbals when a drone is in follow-me mode.
Even now, in 2023, this AI recognition software in drones, 3D object detection, intelligent features, and anti-collision sensors on any drone are not perfect.
We will surely see new drones with technological advancements in relation to the follow-me mode in the years to come!