10 Popular Drones that Follow You
Maybe you find it a bit spooky to have a flying robot hovering over your shoulder. I know some people do. But no one can deny that this is no longer the stuff of science fiction. It’s so cool it’s beyond belief.
Civilian drone technology keeps getting better and more exciting with each new development. You’ll already know something about the drones that follow you if you’ve been keeping up with the times.
The buffs’ call them by their proper name: UAV, short for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. For the most part we’ll simply refer to them as drones, follow me drones, and auto follow drones.
Before I get into the options available, let’s take a quick look at five of the most frequently asked questions. These are the ones every budding or wannabe drone pilot wants to know.
- What is an auto follow drone—exactly?
- How do these flying machines track you?
- How fast can a follow-me drone fly
- What distance can these drones follow at?
- How safe are follow me drones?
Keep reading to get the answers to all the above and a lot more besides.
Choose Your Budget:
- Follow Me Drones Under: $500
- Follow Me Drones Under: $1000
- Follow Me Drones Under: $2000
- Follow Me Drones Over: $2000
DJI Mavic Pro
|7 km||27 minutes|
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
|1.6 km||25 minutes|
Auto Follow Drones in a Nutshell
No… these are not some kind of robotic pets. That said, it’s easy to become overly fond of a faithful follow me drone. But the real benefits of these flying cameras are in videography and personal filming.
Never before have we been able to record such graphic, quality video and stills of our lives. It’s great fun, it’s artistic and it’s wonderful for posterity. No one can be unimpressed with modern drones.
As complex as newer crafts are, most are super easy to handle with a little practice. It’s certainly easier to teach your drone new tricks than it is an old dog.
What is an ‘auto follow drone’ exactly?
The name sums it up pretty well. It indicates that unmanned flying machines track their pilots. The smart technology locks onto the subject and then follows them wherever they go.
You can’t do two things at once—right? The freedom of an auto-follow drone means the subject (probably you) can get on with the action without having to navigate the craft. How smart is that?
These drones will track any moving or stationary person, animal, or thing as per your instructions. Here are just a few popular uses for drones that follow you:
What you track has no limits other than your imagination. And if you or the thing you’re tracking stops moving, the drone stops too and simply hovers until you take off.
How do drones track their subject?
There are currently two types of flight tracking:
- GPS Transmitter/GSC
- Follow Me Recognition Technology
The drone’s intelligent flight mode turns it into a sort of hands-free camera crew. The popular tracking technology is a Ground Station Controller or GSC, with a ‘Follow Me’ GPS transmitter.
Newer technology uses a special recognition type of software. Whatever the tracking technology is, the goal is always the same and that is to follow the subject.
GPS Transmitter/GSC: No drone has the ability to actually see you or the thing you want it to track. This means you need a GPS device and a wearable transmitter, smartphone or GSC, etc.
Once you’ve paired the subject with the drone the fun begins. The drone then latches onto the transmitter and follows whatever you’ve programmed it to track.
Drone Follow Me Recognition Technology: This is the latest tracking technology and uses special sensors and software algorithms. It follows the subject without having to rely on GPS trackers. The drone has to fly around you a couple of times to collect data. Once it’s stored that data, it latches on to you and follows as per your instructions.
The technology is highly-sophisticated but easy to work with.
How fast can a follow-me drone fly?
There are speed restrictions with civilian drones. Still, you don’t have to worry about those here. The average speed of the follow-you drones in this guide is around 39 mph (63 km/h).
What distance can these drones follow at?
Auto follow drone distances will vary depending on the manufacturer, model and technology. My advice is to keep the distance short and sensible unless you have reasons otherwise.
You don’t want to create too much space between the drone and its subject. This could result in a lost connection. The drone might even crash if you’re a long way from home.
My advice is to work at close distances, at least until you become familiar with your UAV.
How safe are fly me drones?
At the time of writing this guide most Follow Me drones on the market don’t have any kind of object avoidance software. A few do, but most don’t. This is another reason to take things slowly at the start.
Get familiar and become confident with your drone and its technology before you get too ambitious. It’s always a good idea to practice in wide open spaces.
Plan your routes carefully and be mindful of any obstacles along the way. You may be able to note the height of potential obstructions and then program your drone to fly above that height for added safety.
Be mindful of your battery life and any warning indicators. You don’t want to run out of flying power before you’re even halfway done.
Not All Drones Are Made Equal
Some drones are too difficult to control, especially for inexperienced users. Others don’t perform as well as the hype. And there’ll always be those that shoot substandard video and stills.
It’s the purpose of this guide to break through the crap and highlight the best follow-me drones available right now. That means user-friendly devices that perform well and shoot great footage.
The 10 drones in this review guide include (in price order, cheapest to most expensive):
Top 10 best auto FOLLOW ME drones at a glance:
Okay, that’s our introductions into auto-follow drones, tracking technology, and my top 10 picks. I’ll now break them down for you starting with models under $500.
FOLLOW ME DRONES UNDER $500
Follow-me drones under $500 can provide as much flight time, speed, and distance as some of the more expensive crafts. They may fall short in the quality of materials used, optical quality and range of features. These are not things that’ll bother anyone at the entry level too much. My top picks in this price category present four exceptional value drones that follow you. They’ll give you lots of pleasure and record all your happy memories with very acceptable results.
There’s something loveable about the DJI Spark. It’s a smart auto follow drone created with the beginner pilot firmly in mind. It’s tiny too, which can be a good or bad thing depending who you are.
This belongs to a category of mini drones (palm-sized). It’s a whole 200g lighter than the Parrot Bebop 2m, which is currently its closest rival. This is the perfect model for people on the move.
The DJI Spark is another of those fun machines but with a serious side. You can control it by tapping controls from your smartphone or even by waving your hands around. Yes, you read that right.
- Weight: 300g (10.6 oz.)
- Battery: LiPo 3S Spark 1480 mAh
- Charging Time: 90 minutes (1.5 hrs)
- Control range (controller): 500m (1640 ft.)
- Control range (smartphone): 100m (328 ft.)
- Max flight time: 15 minutes
- Max speed: 14 m/s (31 mph)
I do like the manual options for levelling up and the Gesture Control Mode. Some users find it a bit too gimmicky. I think it’s valuable as long as you take time to practice using it properly.
The video is another plus point. The two-axis gimbal (pivoted support) steadies the high-quality 1080p video. My advice would be to make sure you’ve always got spare batteries with you though.
Alas, you only get around 12-15 minutes flying time per charge. That means you really do need to prepare before you head out. If you don’t, you’ll set yourself up for a lot of disappointments.
They call this the first follow me drone with a brain—surprising considering the low cost. It’s a unique looking machine that has two computers to enhance its performance.
The 3DR Solo is another great entry level drone just like the budget-priced Hubsan above. The intuitive controls are exactly what a newbie needs to get to grips with their debut flight.
If you’re used to video game controllers you’ll take to the 3DR Solo’s controls like a duck to water the second you pick them up.
- Weight: 1814g includes camera (4 lbs.)
- Battery: 14.8 volt LiPo (5200 mAh)
- Charging Time: 90 minutes (1.5 hrs)
- Control range: > 1.5 km (0.9 miles)
- Max flight time: 25 minutes
- Max speed: 24 m/s (55 mph)
What I like about this drone is that it can be as simple as you need it to be, yet you can also be really creative in your filming. The only downside is that you need to invest in your own GoPro Camera.
Intelligent control modes make things easy. You’ve got: Follow Me, Selfie, Orbit mode, and Cable Cam. The smart computer system gives you control over distance, angle and changes in perspective.
You have some cool features to explore with this drone. And as far as I know, it’s currently the only one on the market that streams wireless HD vid from the GoPro directly to Android/iOS devices.
If you’re an entry-level drone pilot add the Hubsan H501S X4 to your shortlist. This is a great value-for-money Follow Me drone that’s pretty much ready to fly out of the box.
Don’t let the size put you off. It is notably bigger than the competition, but it’s still a breeze to control once it’s airborne. It’s actually easier to control that many smaller models.
This is easily the cheapest drone with follow me, signal loss protection, and altitude hold. The control range and flying time are even better than what you get on costlier crafts.
- Weight: 410g (1 lb.)
- Battery: Li-Po 7.4V 2300mAh
- Charging Time: 150 minutes (2.5 hrs.)
- Control range: > 250 meters (273 yards)
- Max flight time: 20 minutes
- Max speed: 20 m/s (45 mph)
There are a few flight modes to explore including one for the complete beginner. This is a nice touch for anyone who needs time to get used to the controls before they take to the skies properly.
I particularly like the controller features of the Hubsan H501S X4. There’s a nice clear screen that lets you know how high up you are, along with your proximity to the drone.
The Yuneec Breeze is an average looking drone with a lot more going for it than appearances. If you want a quiet, compact auto follow drone that’s easy to fly—you’ve got it. This is a real fun craft to own.
After a few flights you’ll realize this drone is as capable as many others at twice the size and price. The Breeze costs about $100 more than the first two picks but you get a lot of bang for your buck.
The five automated flight modes work seamlessly and include: Pilot, Journey, Orbit, Selfie and VisionTrack. And the HD camera delivers results that are simply amazing.
- Weight: 385g (13.6 oz.)
- Battery: 2 3s batteries rated at 1140 mA
- Charging Time: 30 minutes
- Control range: > 100 meters (328 ft.)
- Max flight time: 12 minutes
- Max speed: 5 m/s (11 mph)
If you happened to lose the signal, your Yuneec Breeze will automatically return to home. That’s assuming it has enough power remaining (see below).
The only reason the Yuneec Breeze didn’t make the top slot in this price range is because it falls short in three key areas. It has a poor maximum flight time, limited control range, and slow speed.
These things combined will frustrate those of you who want to make more ambitious, creative filming. For shorter uses and general recording, though, this is a wonderful, well-built drone for this category.
OK, that brings us on to the next category, follow you drones less than $1000
FOLLOW YOU DRONES UNDER $1000
I’ve listed two follow me drones in the $500-$1000 price range. These are flying machines for the more serious hobbyist. The overall build is more robust and the range of features tends to be better than the cheaper models. Expect some neat flight intelligent modes too.
- Many features but easy to learn
- Lightweight and compact
- Excellent flight time
- +6 more
- Fast recharging battery
- Quiet compared to some models
- Flexible Gimbal
- Hand gesture mode
- Obstacle avoidance system
- Live stream videos
- Narrow field of view (FOV)
- Not easy to launch from grass
- Full experience needs smartphone
TIf you’re into small powerful follow me drones then consider the DJI Mavic Pro. When folded up it’s not much bigger than a jar of coffee. This is a great little machine for serious videographers and photographers.
The DJI Mavic Pro is a simple craft to master despite its sophistication and professional appeal. Its Tripod Mode is child’s play. All you do is follow whatever the app instructs you to do. That’s it!
This UAV has so much going on that some call it the Swiss army knife of drones. But don’t let its power, elegance and impressive features overwhelm you. It really is a very user-friendly craft.
- Weight: 735g (1.6 lbs.)
- Battery: 2970mAh
- Charging Time: 60+ minutes
- Control range: 4.3 mile (7 km)
- Max flight time: 27 minutes
- Max speed: 18 m/s (40 mph)
DJI Mavic Pro is one of the few machines that have obstacle avoidance built in. Although it’s a great feature, remember that the drone can only see what’s in front of it, not behind or at either side.
The advanced gimbal settings let you take full control of the gimbal tilt wheel to ensure you get the smoothest footage out of all your movements.
Compared to a lot of powerful drones the flying time of the DJI Mavic Pro is impressive. You get something like 30 minutes under optimal conditions. Some drones only give you 10-12 minutes.
To sum up the DJI Mavic Pro, you have 4K ultra HD distortion-free video, long flying range, and a decent flight time. There’s also obstacle avoidance, precision hover and image stabilization.
Like any drone, the DJI Mavic Pro is not without a few downsides. The smaller size—though appealing to many—can be a turn off for others. It’s also more difficult to keep an eye on it.
The DJI Mavic Pro is a tough little machine but it’s not so good against blustery winds. This is something to think about if you’re a professional who needs to shoot outdoors against tight deadlines.
But overall, the size and portability of this auto follow craft makes it a surefire winner. It’s certainly a popular choice for serious hobbyists and professionals with a thousand bucks to spare.
- Six-rotor design
- Rotating 360° 4K video camera
- Raw and JPG image capture
- +6 more
- Modular design
- Advanced gimbal settings
- Can carry heavier payloads
- Retractable landing gear
- Good operating range
- Includes obstacle avoidance
- Supports dual-operator control
- Online community support
- Price tag
- Comes down too fast
- Quite heavy
If you thought the previous drone looked cute and friendly, the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is quite the opposite. It looks a bit like a giant insect for want of a better description.
I know I jest about the looks of some drones. But let’s not forget aesthetics, ergonomics, and all that other stuff matters to some people as much as functionality.
If you like the way the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro looks it’ll please you to know it’s a top performer as well. It’s a follow-me drone designed to please everyone from beginners to advanced.
- Weight: 1950g (4.3 lbs.)
- Battery: 4S 14.8V LiPo Battery (POWER 4)
- Charging Time: 1 hr 50 minutes plus
- Control range: > 1.6 km (1 mile)
- Max flight time: 25 minutes
- Max speed: 19.4 m/s (43.5 mph)
I would say the prosumer is the most interested buyer. That’s because it’s one of the most advanced videography and aerial photography drones around at the moment in this price range.
Flying the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is a piece of cake. The big 7″ integrated display screen on the all-in-one controller helps. Here you can easily manage real-time recording of every flight.
Enjoy a full 360° view of the world you’re filming in flawless quality. Seriously, you would usually only have videography experiences like this with high-end, higher priced professional crafts.
There are plenty of intelligent task modes to explore too. You’ve got Orbit Me, Point Of Interest mode, Journey, Curve Cable Cam, Follow Me / Watch Me, and a Dynamic Return to Home mode.
This is likely the best Aerial Videography Hexacopter you’ll find right now for under $1000.
FOLLOW YOU DRONES UNDER $2000
Makers of follow me drones between $1000-$2000 target the prosumer level. These are high-quality machines with lots of bells and whistles to boot. My tip here is to only invest in one of these awesome auto-follow drones if you really need what they offer. Always know what it is you want to achieve as it will help you make the right decision.
- Good quality follow-me drone
- Built in controller screen
- Long battery life
- +9 more
- Long-distance control
- Return-to-home feature
- Obstacle detection system
- Gimbal lock
- Automated flight modes
- High-performance Sport mode
- Wide angle 24mm lens
- 60fps 4K video
- 20MP Raw and JPG images
- Price tag
- Taxing firmware updates
The first of my picks in the under $2000 category is the DJI Phantom 4 PRO. It’s one of the last in the prosumer line of auto follow drones and a very worthy contender.
It’s just outside entry-level considerations, not because it’s too complicated but because it’s hard to justify the cost for a first drone. It’s a well sought after machine for enthusiasts and serious users.
Aerial photographers, real estate marketers, film makers, and anyone else who demands consistently crisp footage with a minimum of fuss will love the DJI Phantom 4 PRO.
- Weight: 1388g (3.1 lbs.)
- Battery: Li-Po 4S 5,870 mAh
- Charging Time: 210 minutes (3.5 hrs.)
- Control range: > 7000 meters (7 km)
- Max flight time: 30 minutes
- Max speed: 20 m/s (45 mph)
Despite the bells and whistles this craft is almost ready to go out of the box. Flight modes include Follow Me, GPS Waypoints, Point of Interest, Gesture Mode, Course Lock, and Return to Home.
The DJI Phantom 4 PRO comes equipped with obstacle detection and collision avoidance. This means safer flying in general, but it’s particularly useful for shooting close to the ground and inside buildings.
Compared to its predecessor—the Phantom 3 Pro—the flying dynamics and overall performance have all seen an upgrade. It might even be the most cutting-edge flying camera around right now.
The tech specs below highlight some of the other impressive features of this super drone.
Many call this drone the pilot’s dream. Once you unpack the 3D Robotics Iris+ it’s just a case of attaching the propellers and charging the battery. That’s about it; you’re ready to take to the skies.
This craft will please both the experienced user and the complete novice. If you want it as an amazing auto-follow drone, though, the 3D Robotics Iris+ isn’t ready out of the box.
To exploit all the follow-me features you have to invest in a gimbal and a GoPro Hero3+ camera. You’ll also need a First Person View (FPV) system if you want to see recordings while the drone is airborne.
- Weight: 1282 grams (2.82 pounds)
- Battery: 5100 mAh 3 S
- Charging Time: 45-60 minutes
- Control range: > 300 meters (328 yards)
- Max flight time: 22 minutes
- Max speed: 11 m/s (24 mph)
With these extras included you still have a very powerful and capable drone for the money. This is a very smart UAV that uses an advanced processor and state-of-the-art sensor technology.
The built-in data radio, flight protection feature, long flight times and flexible camera options add further to this multicopter’s overall appeal.
The drone flies smoothly and is notably stable. This allows you to create amazing videos and sharp photos. All things considered, the 3D Robotics Iris+ is as a sound investment.
- Almost fully autonomous
- Easily foldable
- Extremely easy-to-operate
- +5 more
- Lots of intelligent sports modes
- Programmable safety landing
- Precision tracking
- No need for piloting skills
- Waterproof remote control
- High price tag
- No camera included
- Not ideal for indoor use
- +1 more
- No collision detection system
The name should grab the attention of sports enthusiasts if nothing else. The AirDog Sport Action Drone is your faithful companion for action sports such as cycling, surfing, sailing and so on.
The drone comes with a wearable controller—AirLeash—that has a Gyro Stabilized Gimbal. It’s simple to use and gives you plenty of Sport Flight modes with new ones in the pipeline all the time.
Anyone who’s serious about capturing fast action—and particularly sports—will want to take a serious look at the only drone currently built for this purpose.
- Weight: 1987g (4.38 lbs.)
- Battery: Lithium-ion polymer, 5600 mAh
- Charging Time: 180 minutes (3 hrs.)
- Control range: > 250 meters (273 yards)
- Max flight time: 18 minutes
- Max speed: 17.8 m/s (40 mph)
Using this drone is a doddle once you get used to it. It’s also simple to store away and carry to events. The specially designed arms tuck in easily making it more compact and safe from accidental damage.
One of the great features of the Airdog is that it’s capable of flying in winds of up to 28 knots. It can do this at an impressive range of 820 ft. from the waterproof AirLeash wrist unit.
This is an auto-follow action drone optimized for use with GoPro 3, 3+, or 4 cameras (not included). All things considered, there’s not much to compete with the AirDog for recording action sports.
FOLLOW YOU DRONES OVER $2000
I’ve only included one follow me drone in the over $2000 category. This is the last of the prosumer tracking drones. It offers high-quality zoom optics and an unlimited control range among other things. You’ll either want this drone or have no need for it and choose one of the more affordable options.
- 360 degrees rotation
- Unlimited control range
- Powerful flight APP
- +7 more
- 4G wireless internet
- Multiple flight modes
- 4K video (standard lens version)
- Retractable landing gear
- Detachable gimbal
- Impressive battery life
- Ultra-light (carbon fiber) materials
- High price tag
- Challenging for the novice
They market the Walkera Voyager 4 as a prosumer (advanced enthusiasts) follow me drone. The upgraded model stands out from the pack because it has an 18x optical telephoto zoom lens.
With its mega zoom lens the Walkera Voyager 4 is a different beast, but why bother? Well, it means you can zoom in on people, places, things, and events from quite a long way off. This might cause some privacy issues later, especially as you can control this drone from anywhere in the world.
However, these are not things that really interest the follow me drone enthusiast. You don’t have to worry—the Walkera Voyager 4 has a standard lens version with stunning 4K UHD video.
- Weight: 3200g (7.1 lbs.)
- Battery: 22.2V 4500 mAh
- Charging Time: Avg. 90 minutes
- Control range: Unlimited
- Max flight time: 20 minutes
- Max speed: 20m/s (45 mph)
This is a high-quality drone with a sleek look. Even the controller is a beautiful ergonomic design with quality rubber grips for comfortable handling. Few could fault its design or its functionality.
The intelligent Follow Me Modes include: Altitude Hold, Circle Flight, Destination Planning Waypoint, Back to Base and Fly Around Object mode.
This concludes my top ten follow-me drone picks for now. There are others, but these are the most sought after and most praised auto follow drones in their price range.
The exciting new Follow Me Technology is more than just a fad—it’s a way of life for many. It’s certainly widened the appeal of drones with the freedom, flexibility, and ease of use.
Once you start to record your life events with your own drone you’ll probably wonder how you ever managed without it. It’s going to be similar to the mobile phone revolution that kicked off in the 1990s.
I’ll revise this guide periodically when there is something new to write about that deserves attention. Please bookmark this page and check back for updates.