Follow Me Tech: Drones That Can Float Behind You Wherever You Go
Drones just get better and better each year. The Follow-Me feature that appeared on drones in 2015, while it was a modest advance in the technical sense, made a lot of magical ideas possible. With Follow-Me, you can get your bicycle on a mountain trail, get on a surfboard out in the ocean or even just go on a jog down your street. Your drone follows you at a set distance, shooting high-definition video all the time. It’s like you have your own personal videographer on a helicopter.
In the beginning, Follow-Me was a primitive GPS-based technology, and it wasn’t very accurate. Your drone didn’t really know how to follow you; all it did was to read the coordinates sensed by the GPS sensor that you carried on your person. With those coordinates, it knew where you were, and tried to keep up. If the sensor wasn’t very accurate, your drone wouldn’t really follow you well.
Now, however, modern units are beginning to show up with far more advanced following technology. If you’re looking for Follow-Me drones with cameras for sale, here’s what you look for.
The latest version of Follow-Me is called Auto-Follow-Me, and it uses target-and-lock algorithms to recognize and follow objects. To get it working, you look at yourself on the camera’s output, you drag a box around yourself to tell the device what it’s supposed to follow, and you start moving. The algorithm is able to understand what form it’s supposed to follow and keep going after it. It can go after people, animals, vehicles and even other drones.
Right now, Auto-Follow-Me is available only on some models. Most still use inaccurate old GPS. Auto-Follow-Me should take over the industry very soon, though.
The best Auto-Follow-Me models on the market today
Auto-follow-Me isn’t a single function. There are different modes, depending on the kind of activity that you have in mind. You can get your drone to follow you at a fixed distance, to run rings around you while keeping you in the picture and take pre-programmed routes. There is even an auto-home feature that takes it home on its own. Here are the models to put on your list.
DJI Phantom 4: While this $1479 unit is high-quality and features a 28-minute battery, it’s one of the duller looking designs. It does have a great camera included, however.
EHang GhostDrone 2.0: This $599 unit is a winner. With a 4K sports camera included, a 25-minute battery and some of the best auto-follow features around, it’s one of the best buys.
Auto-Follow AirDog: At $1,599 (with no camera included), this compact, intelligent drone is on the expensive side, but it’s a great device that’s small enough to fit in a backpack, and it comes with a number of specialized follow modes.
Drone technology is only getting more exciting with each passing model iteration. While you may not be the adventure sports type that you would want one of these to follow you around as you climbed up a mountain or attacked a tubular wave in Hawaii, technology this good is hard to resist. It’s almost as if you’d want to take something up just for an excuse to get one of these flying robots.