Drone companies have been incorporating smart features into their consumer drones to allow for an easier and better experience for customers. One of the first smart features added to make pilot’s lives easier was a follow me mode. Today we will be looking into follow-me mode, and give you a list of the best drones that follow you.
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I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.
What is Follow me mode?
As the name suggests, follow me mode on your drone is a smart flight feature that allows your drone to follow you, or another selected object, completely autonomously. This is achieved through various techniques, including object detection, controller follow, and GPS/GLONASS follow. All of these modes use their own unique setups of ultrasonic sensors, GPS/GLONASS, Bluetooth connectivity, and/or cameras to get the best shot possible for the user.
There is a large gap between the entry level drones and the best machines on this list. Some of the basic follow-me functionality is to use a Bluetooth connection between the drone and remote. For these machines, there may not be obstacle avoidance, you need to tread carefully, literally. Advanced machines combine visioning systems that perform smart computational object detection, with laser and other sensors to avoid obstacles, and many can even self-navigate around trees and more to keep a lock on you.
Related reading: DJI Quickshot smart modes
The Best follow me drones
This list is in no particular order, have a look through for the drone that best fits your budget and needs. Although, if we had to absolutely pick the very best follow me drone, that would be the Skydio 2, it has some serious next-level capabilities compared to most drones out there.
Skydio 2: Next-level self-navigation and object tracking
The Skydio 2 is one of the smartest drones in the sky. The equipped processing unit is found in some higher-end commercial drones, and in the educational space, enabling powerful multi-directional object detection and pathing algorithms. Bottom line, it’s very hard to crash the Skydio 2. Better yet, the object tracking is able to anticipate your trajectory, so if you disappear behind a tree for a few seconds, the drone will re-acquire you and continue to follow.
Should I buy the Skydio 2?
As much as we love the Skydio 2 for follow-me tasks, we mostly feel like that’s its only viable use. It has a nice 4K camera, but not as good as similarly priced camera drones out there. you ca fly it by remote control, but the true value is in the self-piloted modes, if you’re not going to use them, the Skydio 2 might be a waste of your money.
- Class-leading obstacle avoidance
- Good flight time
- Class-leading object tracking
- Easy to use
- One-trick pony
Skydio R1: Jetson powered AI flight
The Skydio R1 introduced the consumer drone market to the Nvidia Jetson super-computer. This mini platform was designed for unmanned systems, with a focus on navigation tasks. That is to say that most Jetson powered robotics are capable of extremely safe flight. The Skydio R1 had a big price tag, and a mediocre camera, but it was an invaluable lesson for Skydio as they developed the Skydio 2.
Should I buy the Skydio R1?
Honestly, no, if you do not find the Skydio R1 on a huge sale, or don’t have a specific need of the hardware for another project, there’s little point in buying the R1 over the newer and more capable Sydio 2.
- Jetson computer
- Fantastic object detection
- Really good obstacle avoidance
- Mediocre camera
DJI Air 2S: Superb camera
The DJI Air 2S lacks a few obstacle avoidance sensors, but it makes up for it with the advanced placement of the forward sensors. The new semi-upward facing sensors end up pointing in the direction of travel when the drone tilts to fly. This is mostly useful for full-speed forward flight, but works a little bit sideways when strafing, and are upward facing when you’re hovering. DJI installed a new version of APAS in this drone as well, taking their object detection and auto-pathing to the next level.
Should I buy the DJI Air 2S?
The DJI Air 2S is one of our favorite drones on the market right now. It’s also our top recommendation for those looking for a hobby camera drone. if you do not need the most powerful obstacle avoidance and follow-me functionality, the Air 2S is a very balanced drone otherwise, well worth your consideration.
- Superb camera
- Great flight range
- Good battery life
- Easy to fly
- APAS 4.0
- Lacks sideways facing sensors
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: Follow you from afar
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom offers the best obstacle avoidance sensor configuration on a consumer drone. In the right mode, the Mavic 2 series offers all-direction sensing. Improving safety, the Mavic 2 Zoom has a solid zooming lens on the camera, which means it can hang back and still capture great images of you on the go.
Should I buy the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom?
The Mavic 2 Zoom is one of the best consumer drones on the market, we fly ours frequently, especially when we want a little extra visual range. That said, it’s an older drone at this point, we would hesitate to pay full MSRP for it.
- Very safe
- Zooming camera
- Great flight time
- Easy to fly
- Older drone
DJI Mini 2: Compact and versatile
The DJI Mini 2 lands near the top of many best lists for its compact size, light weight, and affordable price tag. Simply put, this is our pick for the best 4K camera drone for under $500. For the task of following an object, the Mini 2 may not be the best machine to consider, as it only has forward and downward obstacle avoidance, but it will track you, and it’s super portable, so if you subscribe to the theory that the best camera is the one you have available, the Mini 2 is certainly easy to keep available.
Should I buy the DJI Mini 2?
Let’s be fair, the Mini 2 has a good, but not great camera, and that’s all we have to say against it. We like the photos and video it can produce, but we know that drones like the Air 2S and Mavic 2 Pro produce far better imagery. Having said that, we always reach for a mini drone over the larger Mavic series when we just want to slap something in our backpack and hit the trail.
- Very portable
- Good 4K camera
- Best drone under $500
- Limited obstacle avoidance sensors
Swellpro Spry+: Totally waterproof
If you like to fly near water, reduce your risk of loss by choosing the Swellpro Spry+. This capable 4K camera drone has limited obstacle avoidance features, but it’s totally waterproof and resilient enough to keep up with your watersport adventures.
Should I buy the Swellpro Spry+?
If you fly over water, we know of no better consumer drone for your flights, but if you won’t be near water, the extra safety features of the Spry+ tend to hold it back on dry land with the extra weight and the cover over the camera.
- Easy to use
- Very fun
- Limited flight time
- Cover over camera reduces quality a little
DJI Mavic Air 2: Same sensor as your phone
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is a fantastic little camera drone. It houses the same camera sensor as most high-end smartphones of the era, rocking 4K video and up to 48MP photos. It also marked a new record for battery life in a Mavic drone, and proved very portable and easy to operate. While it’s still available, the Mavic Air 2 sits nicely between the Mini 2 and Air 2S.
Should I buy the DJI Mavic Air 2?
As an older drone, it’s getting harder to recommend the Mavic Air 2. It’s still a great drone, well worth its price, but we can’t ignore that the Mini 2 is more affordable and portable, and the Air 2S has a far superior camera for a reasonably small price bump. Any pilot will be happy with the Air 2, just know that there is newer and better on the market today.
- Great flight time
- Solid 4K camera
- Easy to fly
- Good bang-for-the-buck
- Older drone
There you have it, the best follow me drones on the market today. What are your thoughts on drones doing the work for you? Would you rather fly a drone yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below or head over to our social media accounts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I want a drone that can follow me?
As you know, there are many uses for drones today, pilots of racing drones or those looking to capture amazing video from the sky might not care so much about follow-me modes, but action sports enthusiasts rely on the feature to capture their epic moves. The bottom line is that a follow-me mode is an automated flight, helping you get some epic shots without having to manually control your aircraft.
What if my drone doesn’t follow me?
Each drone will offer a different way to control the follow-me modes. Some drones lock onto the remote control, so your drone will simply follow you, but others use vision systems and AI to track an object. It is fairly easy to trick the second type of drone, it can lock onto another person, lose sight of you behind an obstacle and more. You can put a certain amount of trust in the drone, but it is always best to be paying attention and ready to manually take control if something isn’t going as planned. You’ll have to practice with your drone to find out what factors lend to a successful flight.
If you are asking about turning a drone that does not have a follow feature into a drone that follows you, things get more difficult. Bottom line, adding third-party navigation tools can be very expensive, and will require a flight controller and systems that let you plug in modules and code to make them work. It’s very fun to equip Intel RealSense technology onto a PX4 powered drone, especially if that drone is powered by an NVIDIA Jetson computer, but I’ve just named components that each cost about as much as a DJI Mini 2.