Imagine that you want to take a shot of yourself speeding away on a motorcycle using your drone. But you don’t have an extra set of hands to help you at the moment. Of course, you can’t record and ride all at the same time.
What would you do?
Well, this is where the Follow Me mode comes in. It’s one of DJI’s many mind-blowing features that allows your drone to track a particular movement and follow as well as record it.
But here’s the thing: not all DJI drones feature the Follow Me mode.
In this post, we will be covering its existence on the DJI Mini 2 in particular. You’ll also find out if there are any feasible alternatives to the sought-after mode.
But before we dive in deep, I would like to draw attention to how this feature works and how exactly it assists drone piloting.
I have already hinted at what the Follow Me mode generally does. Let me now give a detailed explanation regarding the advanced feature.
DJI Follow Me feature works by using controller tracking, Vision Recognition, or GPS to follow a particular object that is in the drone’s flight path. The special sensors on the drone allow it to follow a point of reference while it continues to record, without the need for your manual control.
It allows the person to do all sorts of activities without having to worry about controlling the drone. Whether you are surfing amongst the waves or climbing to the top of a mountain, your drone will take the perfect shot, all by itself.
I am sure that the idea of shooting and riding the motorcycle simultaneously doesn't sound as impossible anymore, does it?
Here's a tutorial for you to see how it's done.
To help you understand further, I will now talk in detail about the ways with which this Follow Me feature works.
This is a neat way of tracking a movement simply by the use of a drone’s controller.
When put on autopilot, the Follow Me feature will allow the drone to simply track the position of the controller and follow it. As long as the controller is in your hands, the drone continues to follow you by the use of Bluetooth technology.
Of course, it can only work as long as the signal transmission isn’t interrupted.
If you have ever piloted your drone, you are most likely aware of the benefits that come from GPS tagging. From stabilization to navigation, this technology truly contributes to an excellent piloting experience.
But that’s not all.
Many drones feature Follow Me mode — all thanks to GPS tagging.
There is a GPS receiver installed in many drones that is designed to follow a controller on the ground. When your drone is in the air, it will tag a particular object on the ground which would control the movement of the drone.
It can be a smartphone, watch, or any other stand-alone device that can act as a controller. For the Follow Me feature to remain functional, the controller and receiver must be within a specific range and continue to exchange signals.
Some drones that have the feature work by using the Visual Recognition Tech. Such drones have visual sensors as well as other supporting sensors that make it easy to keep track of the point of reference.
The question is, how do these sensors work?
Let's bring our motorcycle example back one more time to understand this.
VRT is an advanced function where the sensors are trained to identify certain predefined criteria of an object. In our case, the sensors of the drone will identify a moving motorcycle along the highway.
Once the object of focus is identified, the camera has the ability to recognize and lock onto it. As long as the drone sensors can visualize the motorcycle, the camera will continue to point towards it and the drone will follow along.
This is a pretty common question asked by pilots when they consider buying a DJI Mini 2. If you too are one of them, allow me to help you with that.
The DJI Mini 2 does not feature a Follow Me mode, even though many other DJI drones do. This allowed DJI to streamline Mini 2 so that the overall weight can be under 250 grams. Despite its lack of built-in Follow Me, there are hacks that can allow the drone to mimic this feature's function.
This does beg another question. Why was there a need to design such a model that doesn’t include some of the very best features of modern drone technology?
Well, let me explain. You see, the key goal of introducing the DJI Mini series was to design drones that do not weigh any more than 250 grams. Portability was prioritized by removing components that DJI deemed unnecessary.
With drones weighing under this limit, a pilot generally does not have to seek certifications. However, make no mistake, you still need to follow all the airspace rules.
Now, let us have a look at the hacks that I was talking about earlier.
Helix Mode is one of the quick shooting modes available in Mini 2. It allows the drone to fly above and then spiral around a particular subject — in a radius ranging from 20 to 120 meters.
Here's how you can trick your drone to follow you using this hack.
Start off by sending your drone further away, at least 120 meters. Next, select the helix mode from the Quickshots menu and set the radius to 120 meters. Focus on your subject allowing it to move strictly in a straight line.
You see, the speed of the drone will be slowest at the 120-meter radius. As long as you're going straight, your new position will be the starting point of the next spiral, before the drone has completed its last one. Thus, its flight path would end up being straight, just like the subject's.
This tutorial may help you understand my points.
This mode is preferable for shorter ranges. As you may have guessed, it simply allows the drone to fly around the subject in circles. Let's see how this hack mimics the Follow Me mode.
The steps are the same as the one I have discussed in the last hack, except of course you'd have to choose the Circle Mode this time.
As the drone starts flying, all you have to do is start walking in a straight and similar direction. Mind your pace — once your speed syncs with that of the drone, it won't be able to get ahead of you. Every step would be a new position for the drone to start flying around in, before getting the chance to complete its last round.
As a result, the drone will simply end up following you in a straight line.
The video below will help you picture what I'm talking about.
Of course, these hacks require a lot of practice. But don't worry, you can definitely get there with time. I personally think it's pretty cool how we can manipulate these simple modes into mimicking the Follow Me mode.
As a pilot, you would always appreciate DJI for its Active Tracking mode. In this part of the post, I will help you understand what the hype is all about.
But first thing first, let us see if DJI Mini 2 features it.
The DJI Mini 2 does not include the Active Tracking feature. Even though many users have found ways to mimic its basic functioning, the model itself does not include a built-in feature of this mode.
It won’t be wrong to say that the Active Tracking is just like the Follow Me feature but only better. You already know how GPS tagging and visual recognition tech work to help your drone focus on an object.
Now imagine both of these features combined. That is how Active Tracking works to give enhanced results.
Hold up, there's more.
Along with the GPS and visual recognition technology, Active Tracking also involves obstacle detection and collision avoidance. It has much more advanced sensors that can track any movement in mere seconds. This makes it one of the most popular tracking features of the DJI drones.
Unfortunately, as I have already pointed out, DJI Mini 2 does not offer such features on its own. But don’t get me wrong. There is a quick fix for our little problem.
At this point, it is well-established that DJI Mini 2 does lack a lot of cool features. But lucky for you, this does not necessarily mean that you can't access them.
It is true that the Litchi app is compatible with the Mini 2. It is one of the most popular third-party apps that allow additional features for drone users, including Follow Me and Active Tracking.
Simply activate it on your device, select the object of focus, and your drone will start following in no time.
One thing I must point out is that the Mini 2 design lacks the obstacle avoidance sensors that would otherwise enable the proper functioning of these modes.
It is therefore recommended to use the combination of Mini 2 with the Litchi app in an open field with no trees or poles nearby. It is a small step to avoid potential collisions that might occur in a closed-off space.
So, as you may have figured out, using the Litchi app for Follow Me isn’t a perfect alternative.
It has a lot of room for improvement as the drone’s design is not specifically built to facilitate additional features. Make sure you have the appropriate skills before you consider using the Litchi app.
This tutorial might help you get the overall idea.
Even if the DGI Mini 2 does not come with a built-in Follow Me mode, it has many other features that make this drone worth buying.
DGI Mini 2 is still worth the money, especially if you are a beginner. The lightweight drone gains its popularity by hitting a very specific part of the drone market. If you are looking for a drone that costs under $500, is easy-to-fly, and captures 4K video, Mini 2 is your go!
If you are piloting a drone for the first time, Mini 2 won’t give you a tough time at all. It has a good variety of automated flight functions that will help you fly this drone and bring it back to the ground safely.
All in all, investing in DJI Mini 2 can not go wrong.
While there are a few DJI drones that do not offer Follow Me, all the other high-end drones do have this feature. Here's what you need to know.
DJI drones that have a built-in Follow Me mode include the Mavic Pro, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 3, Air 2S, Phantom 4, and Spark. On the other hand, one popular drone model that doesn’t have the Follow Me mode is the DJI Mini 2.
DJI drones feature high-quality sensors, visual recognition, and outstanding designs to enable the smooth functioning of the Follow Me mode..
But before you pick your winner, here’s something to learn: Follow Me drones based on visual recognition technology are better than those that just follow GPS tracking.
This is because these drones have visual sensors that make them smart enough to avoid collisions — something that a basic GPS-tracking drone cannot offer.
It would be too bold of me to say that visual recognition tech in Follow Me drones makes them crash-proof, but at least they’re a step closer.