One of the features that drone enthusiasts consider most when they are buying a drone is the follow me mode. Why is the follow me mode so important in a drone? That is what we are going to find out in this short buying guide.
Drone manufacturers are cashing in on this feature. Today, many drones, even the toy drones that do not come with camera, come with the follow me mode. This shows its importance.
What is the meaning of the Follow Me mode in drone?
Just as its name suggests, when activated, the Follow Me mode simply enables your drone to follow you wherever you go. Apart from yourself, you can also instruct you drone to follow another person or thing. This means that the drone makes you or the person it is following the center of interest.
If you are on a mountain bike and you want the drone to shoot a video of your hurtling down the trail, just enable the follow me mode. You just have to match the speed of the drone and it will follow you.
Different drones have different requirements for the follow me mode to work very well. For example, for most of the DJI drones, for the follow me mode to work, it has to maintain an altitude of between 10 meters and 500 meters. From any altitude between these two numbers, you can shoot nice photographs. For videos, it is recommended that you keep the altitude between 10 and 30 meters.
The follow me mode requires you to keep the drone connected with the controller and your smartphone (if the controller does not have an LCD screen). The controller or your smartphone emits a GPS signal (we will discuss in detail) and this is what the drone follows. Thus, the drone cannot follow you if it cannot detect this signal. That is why you must stay within the designated control range.
How does the follow me feature work?
For your drone to use the Follow Me mode, the feature has to be activated first. When activated, this mode relies on any of the following technologies to function:
Many drones have been using this form of Follow Me technology. This technology depends on link between a GPS enabled gadget and the drone. The gadget in this case is mostly a smartphone or a ground station controller (GSC).
When the Follow Me mode of a drone that uses this technology is activated, the drone will follow the smart phone or the controller wherever it goes. The technology also ensures that the drone’s camera focuses on the person with the phone or the controller all the time.
Depending on the model of the drone, this mode operates in various ways. Some drones will just hover around the subject. Others will follow the subject in a straight line, yet others will circle around it and so on.
Object or facial recognition technology
This modern technology uses recognition software that enables the drone to recognize a person’s face or object and follow them everywhere. While following the person or the object, the technology additionally enables the camera to focus on them only.
This technology does not depend on GPS technology to work. It functions by using a chain of algorithms and test flights around the intended subject. This in turn enables it to learn the objects physical appearance and shape from any angle.
Most common types of Follow Me mode
Different kinds of drones come with different sub-features that are related to the Follow Me function. Here are the most common types of Follow Me modes or sub-features you are likely to find in most of consumer drones.
The fixed follow feature enables the drone to follow the subject at a fixed pattern while maintaining the desired angle, altitude and distance. In simpler words, this sub feature will enable you to set your drone to a desired position and it will follow the subject without changing that position.
The drone in this mode will focus on the subject alone without changing its position or orientation. This mode works best when flying your drone in wider open spaces that do not have obstacles.
This sub feature can only work with drones that use the advanced recognition technology. The recognition software in this case first learns the terrain surrounding the drone. The drone will then follow the subject while keeping its height at a certain level while going down or uphill.
Hover and Aim
This feature is ideal when the drone is being flown in smaller spaces or when the desired object in a small area is moving faster than the drone. When this mode is activated, the drone remains at a fixed height and position, but it will hover around the subject. At the same time, it adjusts the camera in order to keep the object under its aim.
Tap Fly Follow Line Mode
This mode allows you to create a desired path that you would want your drone to follow. You usually do this by drawing a path on your screen (smartphone or on the controller if it has a screen) by tapping on it, and the drone will follow that route without error.
Circle Around or Spotlight mode
Under this mode, you can set the drone to fly around the subject at a desired speed. The drone can circle around the object in either a clockwise or an anticlockwise manner. To achieve better results with this mode, ensure that the subject is not moving at a high speed.
Adaptive Follow or Profile mode
This mode prompts the drone to follow a person or an object, relative to their movement. What you need to do is set the drone to fly at a certain angle, for example in front of you and it does exactly that. When you turn, it circles to come in front of you.
If the direction of the object changes, the drone responds to the change by transitioning smoothly around it. This mode is perfect when you want your drone to capture a smooth scenic footage.
DJI ActiveTrach Mode
Precautions to apply when a drone is on Follow Me mode
When a drone is on the Follow Me mode, it is good to observe the following flight precautions to enhance its and your/subject’s safety all the time
1 – Use the Follow Me mode when flying your drone in wide open spaces where there are no obstacles such as houses, trees and power lines. Most of the small consumer drones available in the market cannot avoid obstacles. Therefore, it is upon you to protect it from colliding on them.
2 – If you want a drone that can avoid obstacles while following you, you need to dig deeper into your pocket and acquire a premium model. Such models are equipped with collision avoidance technology that enables them to follow the subject while avoiding obstacles. They have sensors in prominent positions around them to detect obstacles at a certain distance.
3 – Drive at a reasonable speed when you want the drone to follow your car or bike. Most of the drones in the market can follow you when driving, but you must check your speed. Do not speed and still expect your drone to keep up with you. Check whether the manufacturer has recommended the maximum speed and be sure to adhere to it.
4 – For the enhanced safety of your drone, set it to fly at a safer height before activating the Follow Me mode.
5 – Avoid flying your drone in unfavorable weather conditions. First, do not fly it in rainy conditions. It might just render the warranty invalid. Second, avoid flying it in strong winds
6 – Most of the drones will still perform well in normal windy conditions. However, if you push it to battle against too strong winds, it can easily crash rendering it useless.
The drone follow me mode is one of the chief consideration for many enthusiasts when they are buying their drone. You have now seen how it works, and you can be able to make a proper decision. It is now almost a standard feature in the drone industry. It is a fun feature that makes piloting a drone extremely satisfying.