Let us set. Let us follow. Let Us Drone. Have you ever thought “gosh, I wish my drone would follow me around without me using the sticks on the controller”? Well, there's an app for that. To be more specific, there's an intelligent flight mode within an app for that.
Once you enable Follow Me, the drone will follow the RC (provided the phone or tablet has a GPS signal) until you instruct it to stop. This frees up your hands so you can focus on whatever activity you're doing. There are limitations to this flight mode and there is one key difference between Follow Me and ActiveTrack. “Follow me” into the next sections to learn more!
What is the Follow Me intelligent flight mode?
I remember reading an interview that Forbes did with DJI's founder Frank Wang a couple of years ago. Mr. Wang talked about how, as a child, he had wanted a camera-equipped “fairy” device that could follow him around wherever he went. I have to think that the Follow Me flight mode was inspired by Frank's childhood wish.
Follow Me is an intelligent flight mode created by DJI that allows the drone to lock onto the GPS signal of your phone or tablet. Wherever you move with your device, the drone will follow.
People often wonder what the difference between ActiveTrack and Follow Me mode is. ActiveTrack uses the drone's cameras to lock on and follow a subject. Follow Me uses the GPS signal to allow the drone to follow the phone or tablet.
Check out this post I wrote on ActiveTrack!
have Follow Me
I have created a table that shows which DJI's drones currently
|DJI Drone||Follow Me|
|Phantom 3 Series||✅|
|Phantom 4 Series||✅|
|Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom|
When to use Follow Me
You should use Follow Me when you want the drone to follow you without you having to constantly adjust the sticks on the RC. ActiveTrack has gotten more attention because of its ability to keep its subject in the middle of the frame at all times, but that has limitations.
Unlike in ActiveTrack where the drone will lose the subject if it goes under a tree or enters a shadow, the drone will continue to track that subject in Follow Me mode because it's the GPS that is being used to keep a lock, not the drone's cameras.
You will need to use the yaw and gimbal pan to keep you framed up as that is not the drone's job while in Follow Me.
There are many reasons why someone would use Follow Me, here are a few:
- To follow yourself as you walk.
- Follow behind a car (assuming there
isa spotter and an open area).
- Follow behind as you ride a UTV, ATV, or motorcycle.
Go ahead and get creative when you're thinking about where and when to use this intelligent flight mode!
How to enable Follow Me
Now that we know what Follow Me mode is and when to use it, let's talk about how to use it.
Since the drone uses GPS to track your device, I'd recommend using Follow Me while you're in an open area that is less likely to have GPS interference.
We'll need to ensure that the drone is in P-mode, as none of the intelligent flight modes are available to use while we're in Sport or ATTI modes.
Check out this post I wrote on P-mode, Sport, and ATTI modes!
Okay, let's go ahead and get that bird airborne. Follow Me is not accessible with the drone on the ground.
With the drone at a height of at least 10 meters (33 feet), tap on the RC icon to bring up the intelligent flight mode menu.
Select Follow Me from the menu.
This will bring up the Follow Me mode menu. Displayed will be the current strength of the GPS signal and your current altitude. Underneath you will see a blurb that says “Aircraft always flies synchronously with your movement, keeping a fixed distance away in Follow Me Mode”.
As soon as you hit “apply”, the drone will now follow you until it either loses GPS signal or you cancel Follow Me.
You can hide the Follow Me mode menu to give you more real-estate on the screen, but tap on the Follow Me icon in the bottom right-hand corner to see how strong your current GPS signal is.
Now, remember that the drones only job while in Follow Me is to keep a fixed distance away from you. You are responsible for controlling the yaw and gimbal tilt if you want to remain in the center of the frame.
I have to admit that I've been impressed with Follow Me, and I'm surprised that this intelligent flight mode hasn't gotten more attention. I was recently inside a house with the drone 300 feet in the air and it was still following me as I made my way through the house.
How high up can the drone be?
Well, it depends on your GPS signal. In the above paragraph, I mentioned that I had the drone at 300 feet and it was still following me. Alternatively, a couple of weeks ago I was out in a mountainous area and the drone would lose GPS signal before I could even ascend to 75 feet.
I personally see this as a huge advantage over ActiveTrack, where the drone would have no idea what it was supposed to be tracking if it was 300 feet up there.
You can ascend/descend when the drone is in Follow Me, although I noticed that it doesn't do this quite as quick as it does when in normal P-mode.
How low can the drone be?
So, if we can fly high, but how long can the drone be? Earlier I mentioned that you will need to be at least 33 feet in altitude to enable Follow Me.
While this is true, there is a way to have the drone follow you at a lower height. The trick is to enable Follow Me while you are 33+ feet up and descend to a lower height when the drone is following you.
Now, I need to mention that I haven't had great success when lowering the drone below 33 feet. What happens is that the drone typically begins to drift in various directions. Seeing as how you don't have control of the pitch and roll in Follow Me mode, this is risky business.
The drone doesn't drift every time I go below 33 feet, but I find that it happens more often than not. I suppose it's difficult for the drone to get an accurate GPS lock on the mobile device at a lower altitude.
I have attached a YouTube video I made about Follow Me at the bottom of this blog post. In that video you'll see an instance of where the drone is drifting when I'm at 12 feet in altitude.
Obstacle avoidance in Follow Me
Since you are in P-mode when using Follow Me and there are no disclaimers that say that obstacle avoidance is disabled, you will have OA in Follow Me.
A good way to tell if OA is enabled is by looking up at the visual navigations icon on the top of the screen in camera-view. If it isn't red, this is generally a good indication that OA is enabled.
I want to advise you to use extreme cation when using Follow Me mode around obstacles. Even though OA is enabled, the sensors aren't able to detect all objects.
I have seen quite a few people use Follow Me when they are in areas with trees, as this is where ActiveTrack generally falls short.
The problem with this is that the sensors on the drone have a hard time detecting branches and leaves.
I was recently flying my P4 Advanced around trees while in Follow Me mode. The drone's OA would work on bigger trees but there was one occasion where I had to sprint toward the drone so it would fly backward as it was inches away from some branches.
Remember that the drone's number one job while in Follow Me is to keep a fixed distance away from the RC. If you happen to be walking up a hill, the drone will ascend accordingly. If there are trees or other objects above the drone, a collision is in the making if you're not careful. The same thing could happen if you're walking down a hill and the OA doesn't detect
Precautions you should take
I have already talked about how the drone's sensors don't always detect objects.
One thing that I really dislike about Follow Me is that you don't have control of the right stick (roll and pitch).
The other day I was in Follow Me and the drone almost ran into the tree branch, so I instinctively pulled back on the pitch stick. When that didn't work I attempted to roll to the left. Remembering that the right stick was not usable in Follow Me, I ran at the drone so it would fly backward.
I find it crippling to not have control of the right stick while in Follow Me.
On another occasion, I also had a temporary moment of panic. I was in a field and there was a fence to my right. I stopped walking when I was about 30 feet from the fence but the drone continued to drift toward it. I was thinking it would stop but it must have had GPS interference because the drone continued to drift toward it. I hit the red “x” on the screen which caused the drone to exit Follow Me, but my heart-rate began to rise there for a moment.
The moral of the story is that you need to remember that you don't have control of the right stick in Follow Me, so use caution because obstacle avoidance and GPS can (and likely will) fail.
How to exit Follow Me
You have a couple of ways to disengage Follow Me. The first is to hit that red “x” on the screen which will take the drone out of Follow Me.
But what if your mobile device starts to act up and it freezes while you're in Follow Me? You won't be able to tap that “x”, so I'd recommend that you put the drone in
Remember that you need to be in P-mode for all of the intelligent flight modes, so switching to Sport mode is a go-to for me when I need to quickly get out of a flight mode.
Follow Me vs. ActiveTrack
Follow Me and ActiveTrack are similar in that they are both designed to track/follow a subject. They are actually quite different in how they achieve this, and both flight modes have their strong points and drawbacks.
Let's go ahead and take a look at some of the differences, which will hopefully clear up any confusion you may have about the two flight modes.
- Uses GPS from the mobile device to tether the drone.
- Can control yaw, gimbal pan, and height.
- Good for subjects that are not visible at all times.
- Must be at least 10 meters (33 feet) in altitude to enable.
- Uses drone's camera to track subject.
- Can control hight, pitch, roll, gimbal pan, and limited yaw.
- Good for keeping subjects in frame when the lighting is good with no obstructions between the drone and subject.
- Must be at least 2 meters (6 feet) in altitude to use.
I would say that more real-life applications call for ActiveTrack, but that isn't to say that Follow Me doesn't have its place. Get out there and test both of these intelligent flight modes!
Ok, who's overwhelmed? I know, this is a lot of information and you are probably wanting to close this page so you can get out there and fly already. I'll sum up Follow Me with the following bullet points.
- Follow Me is an intelligent flight mode that allows the drone to follow the RC by using GPS from the mobile device.
- Its job is to keep the drone a fixed distance away from the RC.
- You need to be in P-mode to use Follow Me.
- You need to be at least 33 feet in altitude to enable.
- Follow Me will work 300+ feet up if the GPS signal is strong.
- OA is active in Follow Me, but don't rely on it.
- You can adjust the left stick (yaw and height) and gimbal tilt.
- You can not adjust the right stick (roll and pitch).
- Good for tracking subjects that aren't always visible.
- Tap on the red “x” or put the drone in Sport mode to exit Follow Me.
I've had some fun using Follow Me. I've even used it when I was walking from one spot to another and I was too lazy to use the sticks to fly the drone over. Although not as popular as its Hollywood brother, ActiveTrack, Follow Me is an intelligent flight mode that is definitely worth getting used to. What's your experience with this flight mode? Have any tips for us? Comment below!