How Does Follow Me Mode Work in Drones?


Drones are great devices that you can use for a wide variety of different purposes. In recent years, drone technology has come so far as to have semi-autonomous modes that make flying a drone super easy even for beginners. That said, one of the best modes that many drones have is the Follow Me mode. But what is Follow Me (or follow) mode and how does it even work?

The Follow Me feature on many drone models allows the drone to follow you or any other object and shoot a continuous video of the tracked object without the need for you to control the drone manually the entire time. This works by making use of object detection, controller follow, or GPS or GLONASS. 

As you can see, Follow Me mode is a pretty useful flight mode to use if you want to make sure that the drone stays focused on you or another object. This dispenses of the need for you to keep on manually controlling the drone so that you can do different things while the drone follows and takes videos of you or any other object.

The technology behind Follow Me in drones 

Drones and their capability of taking photos and videos have evolved over the years as drone technology is continuing to advance. After all, the goal of advancing drone technology is to make it easier for you to fly the drone and to take fun and interesting pictures and videos with it. This is where a neat kind of technology or feature called Follow Me comes in. But what is Follow Me mode?

Follow Me mode is basically a mode that instructs the drone to continuously follow a person or an object with its camera so that it can take videos of it. In other words, you are basically putting the drone in an autopilot state where it will fly in place and follow you or the object automatically by the use of its camera, without the need for you to control it manually using your controller.

Easy enough to understand in principle, but you might be wondering how it works. For starters, there are a couple of different ways that Follow Me mode can use to lock on to an object and follow it.

Following the controller

The first way that Follow Me mode works is through the controller itself. As long as you have your controller in your hands and have set the drone to Follow Me mode, the drone’s camera will continue to follow whoever has the controller or wherever the controller is through the use of Bluetooth technology. This is a neat way for Follow Me mode to work because its camera just basically follows the direction of the controller while keeping a good distance between it and the controller so that it can take good videos of whoever is in possession of the controller.

However, the downside of this is that some obstacles or signal interference may become problematic when you are using Follow Me mode through a Bluetooth connection between your drone and the controller. When obstacles are in the way, the drone might lose its connection.

Another drawback of this method is that the controller has to be with the moving object. If you wanted to film something moving (like a friend riding a skateboard) you can’t have the drone automatically follow that person without them also having the controller. 

Object detection

Another way that Follow Me mode works is through object detection. Some drone cameras are so advanced that they can “recognize” objects that the drone sees and then lock onto that object. Through object detection, the object that you have designated for your drone to follow will be the focal point for your drone’s camera movement. As long as that object can be detected by the drone’s camera, the drone’s camera will keep on pointing in that direction, and the drone will physically follow along.

Again, the weakness of this kind of method is that obstacles may get in the way of the drone’s camera and will make it lose sight of the object it is supposed to be following. This is where the third kind of Follow Me tech comes in.

GPS tagging

There are also some drones that make use of GPS or GLONASS for their Follow Me mode or technology. These drones make use of the object’s GPS location through the controller. So, whoever has the controller in his possession will be tagged as the object that the drone will follow through its GPS location and not through any other means such as Bluetooth or object detection. This will allow the drone’s camera to follow the controller wherever it goes regardless of whether there might be an obstacle interfering with its Bluetooth signal.

However, there are drones that are so advanced that they come with features that allow them to navigate through trees and obstacles by making use of different types of technology. This includes visioning systems that when combined with lasers and smart object detection systems will allow the drone to avoid any obstacles in front of it while it is following you. And in some cases, the drone can even self-navigate around such obstacles while it is in Follow Me mode.

If you’re looking for a great autonomous follow-me drone experience, it is important to use the best drones with the best Follow Me modes. This will make it possible to have a drone that will do a great job of keeping up with you or any other person or object while taking videos.

How to turn on Follow Me mode?

Activating Follow Me mode is actually pretty simple. You just simply have to pull up the flight modes on your drone’s controller by going to the control-shaped icon on the app. After that, all you need to do is to press on the Follow Me option, which should pop out, and then indicate how strong the GPS signal between the drone and the target is.

Once the Follow Me mode is activated, you can test that it’s working by moving around and observing whether the drone is tracking and following you (or the selected object).

To turn off Follow Me mode, you can go back to your control panel in the controller app, and deselect the Follow mode. Or if you’re done with your flight, you can simply hit the land button, or the return to home button. 

A word of caution with the return to home function though, if you’ve been using Follow Me mode. The return to home could either be set to send the drone back to it’s take-off point, or to the controller’s location. If you’re not where you were when you took off, you might see the drone go sailing away back where you came from, unless the RTH is set to land where the controller is. Be sure of your settings before hitting that button. 

Tips for using Follow Me mode successfully

For a better flight experience, follow these tips on how to use Follow Me mode successfully:

  • Make sure that the drone is no more than 300 feet (100 meters) above the object. Keep the drone as close as possible to the subject for the best video effects. 
  • Avoid using the drone in places where there are a lot of different obstacles. That’s because the drone might end up running into the obstacles during Follow Me mode even though most Follow Me modes only allow the drone to fly in place and then follow the subject with its camera.
  • In the same way, using a drone’s Follow Me mode in places with a lot of obstacles may also interfere with its GPS signal and will make it more difficult for the drone to detect you based on your GPS positioning.
  • It is best to use Follow Me mode in places that are wide and open so that nothing can interfere with the signal and that it will be easier and safer for you to fly without worrying about any obstacles ruining your shot.

Elizabeth Ciobanu

Editor-in-Chief. Elizabeth is a full-time (homeschooling!) mom of four, and serial entrepreneur in a variety of enterprises, one of which is producing content for Droneblog. If free time existed, she would love to spend more time on hobbies such as flying a drone.

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