Gallery: 10 self-flying auto-follow drones to take on your weekend adventures
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The Hexo+ is a completely automated flying machine that sports a number of features. Users control it with a smartphone app and can tell it to follow in a certain position, change the distance, and even fly in 360 degrees around the action.
While it is designed to be completely automated you can fly the $999 drone with an RC remote. That does void the warranty, though, so if you’re looking for something a bit more pilot-friendly you may want to go with another option.
AirDog is designed to take a beating, which is good in light of its somewhat ridiculous name. This snap-together drone features ground collision avoidance and is designed for extreme sports. It’s controlled via a waterproof wristband so you can make on-the-fly adjustments while catching some rad waves.
The AirDog’s $1,599 pricetag is a bit steep, so if you want a budget automated drone this isn’t the one for you.
This one’s not available to buy yet–it’s in preorder mode with a planned ship date of December 2016. That said, the Staaker is a beastly little drone that can fly up to 50 MPH. It collapses down and features a proprietary tracking unit.
Staaker features similar flight options to other models and is similarly priced at $1,195. That is the preorder rate, though: Once Staaker is on virtual shelves it will add $600 to its price tag.
Lily is another drone that’s in preorder, but the low price ($899 now, $999 after preorder ends) and list of features make it one to check out if you’re looking for a completely self-contained kit.
Lily has a built-in camera, and the drone itself is IP67 rated, meaning it can even be taken underwater. It has minimal control options: There’s just the tracking puck with a few buttons to change its flight mode. To get Lily flying you just toss it in the air, and it takes flight to start recording.
It’s a simple, user-friendly camera drone that could be great for families.
If you’re in the market for a professional aerial filming machine the 3DR Solo wants your attention. It can follow and take video automatically or give the pilot complete control.
Solo’s controller allows users to fly the drone and independently control the camera, all while watching from the drone’s perspective via a tablet. It’s a powerful machine and surprisingly affordable for its features. The Solo starts at $799 and goes up from there depending on what you want.
Hubsan X4 H501S
The Hubsan X4 H501S is the bargain hunter’s dream. It’s only $259.99 out of the box, and it has a lot of neat features: built-in camera, manual and auto-follow modes, GPS, an LCD first-person screen on the controller, and auto return modes are all stock.
The reviews of the H501S are overwhelmingly positive. The only drawback I can see is the short 20-minute flight time.
Ehang GHOSTDRONE 2.0
The GHOSTDRONE 2.0 is made for people who want to fly. It’s controlled via a smartphone app and can auto follow, fly between waypoints, and even do something called “avatar mode,” which lets you pilot it by tilting your phone around like a joystick.
There’s also a VR package available so you can fly it in first-person mode. With up to half a mile of range it promises to be a unique device to fly. It’s also only $399.99–not bad if you want to experience life as a bird or try to walk around from a third-person perspective.
At only 4″x4″ this tiny little drone is only able to stay in the air for about 12 minutes. It reportedly packs some good features in to make up for that, though: Wireless photo/video syncing, auto follow, smartphone tilt control, a built-in camera, and battery level monitoring to ensure it never crashes.
Buyers be warned, however: reviews since this crowd-funded drone came out have been a bit mixed. Even at $300 it may be a bit of a gamble.
This tiny little droid will follow you, but that’s not all it’s made for: it’s a BATTLE DRONE! Fellow Petrone owners can battle their drones with infrared blasters, though I can’t imagine it’s easy to hit another tiny drone in 360 degrees of flight.
It can be turned into a ground vehicle with a tire kit, can be manually controlled, and has a camera kit that hooks easily on as well. Purchasing options are various, making it a modular machine. The base model starts at $79 with plenty of optional kits.
The Typhoon H is one serious machine. It can automatically avoid obstacles while auto following you, has a range of up to one mile from its controller, has a 360-degree camera, is VR compatible, and the controller has a first-person LCD screen as well.
The Typhoon H is advanced, and that means the price is high: It’s around $1,299 depending on where you get it.