DJI Mini 3 Pro: How to Use Follow Me and Tracking

The DJI Mini 3 Pro performs well in “follow me” situations (or “autonomous tracking”). The tridirectional obstacle sensors are often useful. However, it should not be used for close-range tracking, as it lacks sensors to the sides and above. It should remain above any surrounding obstacles

One of the most important new features of the Mini 3 Pro compared to the Mini 2 is the presence of sensors for obstacle avoidance to avoid accidents, like the one I will show later on

Here is my in-depth analysis of the obstacle avoidance system in the Mini 3 Pro

For more details about the intelligent flight modes of the Mini 3 Pro, grouped under the name of Focus Track, please relate to my in-depth articles:

If you prefer to watch it as a video, you will find my YouTube version at the end of this one

What is “Follow Me”

In some previous DJI models “Follow Me” was an intelligent mode for tracking based on GPS data

More recent models have the more powerful and flexible Active Track which also uses visual recognition

The term “follow me” is now used for tracking autonomously a target, regardless of the technology used

All three intelligent flight modes of the Mini 3 Pro grouped under the name of Focus Track have some sort of tracking capabilities. These modes are:

  • Active Track
  • Spotlight
  • Point of Interest

but the most suitable one for autonomous tracking, and therefore for “follow me”, is Active Track

Active Track Settings

Video by VicVideopic

To enter Focus Track we draw a box around a target. A small window will appear with the modes available: Active Track, Spotlight, and Point of Interest

After selecting Active Track, there is a choice between two different options: Trace and Parallel

Drow a box to enter Focus Track (photos by Vic Videopic)

In the menu control, we can select the option Subject Scanning. The software will recognize specific targets like people, cars, bicycles, and boats and put a plus sign over them

To enter the three Focus Track modes we can tap on the plus sign. This method is particularly suitable for targets that are already in motion

Select SubjectScanning to track moving targets

Subject scanning is available at 4k with frame rates up to 30 fps

The three Focus Track modes do not work at frame rates higher than 30 fps. This is a bit of a disappointment, as cannot apply some true slow motion while tracking, which would often be useful

Obstacle Avoidance

Video by VicVideopic

Obstacle avoidance is crucial for the tracking capabilities of a drone for two reasons

  • Visual recognition is part of the tools needed for Focus Track and it relies on obstacle sensors
  • Tracking without any sort of obstacle avoidance would be too dangerous

The Mini 3 Pro has a pair of obstacle sensors at the front, back, and bottom

They work with the Automated Pilot Assistance System APAS 4.0 to avoid obstacles and find alternative ways around them

But this model lacks sensors at the sides and the top, therefore tracking action at close distance is not suggested

In this article, I describe the most common mistakes to avoid with the Mini 3 and Min 3 Pro

Automated Pilot Assistance System (APAS 4.0)

Video by VicVideopic

It handles the drone’s behavior when it encounters obstacles in its path

In the menu safety of the settings, it is possible to choose the action to take when encountering an obstacle. There are three choices: Bypass, Brake, and Off

The three options for APAS with the Mini 3 Pro

It is possible to show a radar map on the screen. It will show a line in the lower part of the screen if obstacles are detected below the drone, the distance from the obstacle is displayed. the line will be yellow at first and will turn red when the obstacle is closer

If an obstacle is detected in front of the drone, another line will appear in the upper part of the screen

If the option Break is selected, when the aircraft gets at about one meter from the obstacle it stops and hovers in place. The same happens when going back toward the same obstacle

In Bypass mode, the aircraft will find the shortest path around the obstacles

Bypass mode is active only with frame rates up to 30 fps. With higher frame rates the obstacle detection still works, but the aircraft simply stops before an obstacle instead of finding its way around it

The APAS system is very useful and saved my drone on many occasions when it accidentally ended near unexpected obstacles

Tracking a Target

The two main modes for tracking with the Mini 3 Pro are Active Tract and Spotlight

When it is possible to operate the remote control freely, the most efficient mode is Spotlight, as it makes it possible to perform all sorts of moves while the target is maintained in the center of the frame

Video by VicVideopic

Active Track is the best choice for autonomous tracking when it is impossible to control the drone’s flight with the remote control

The aircraft will move at a constant distance from the target and a constant altitude

For tracking, it is suggested to choose a wide-open area without obstacles or to keep the drone well above any obstacles

While tracking, it is possible to apply a smooth zoom of up to 200% with the scroll wheel of the controller to get closer to the action

Being a digital zoom there will be a loss of resolution, so this option is mainly for users who encode their footage in 1080p

When tracking at close range, it is important to know how Return To Home works, find all about it in this in-depth article

“Follow me” with the Mini 3 Pro

When tracking someone it is suggested to choose an open environment, maybe on a beach, or somewhere with an interesting view in the background

Video by VicVideopic

The drone will be able to follow at a constant smooth pace with less distracting results

When tracking with the Mini 3 Pro, it is possible to have the aircraft closer to the target and the ground compared to previous models, which is excellent for close-ups

With Active Track, the drone will move forward to maintain a constant distance from the target, even though the sticks of the controller are not used

Following someone from behind is rarely interesting. It is generally more engaging to follow a target from the front or the side, for example, someone telling a story, singing, or two people talking while walking

While tracking it is possible to modify the distance and the height, the aircraft will maintain the same position and distance from the target

“Follow me” also works in vertical mode, by simply setting the camera in vertical mode before selecting the target

How I destroyed my Mini 3 Pro

Video by VicVideopic

While I was testing the obstacle avoidance system, after checking the front and the back sensors I decided to try flying upwards with a canopy of trees above

I tilted the camera up to better see and started moving upwards

The front of the drone caught a branch, spun around, and fell heavily to the ground with the engine still on. It bounced on the ground several times so hard that one pair of arms was folded. Finally, it came to a halt

I inspected the aircraft to check the damage. During the collision, one of the front sensors has been smashed

The Mini 3 damaged after the crash
The Mini 3 damaged after the crash (photos by Vic Videopic)

I tried to restart the drone but a scary message appeared on the screen. I tried to perform the required calibration, but sadly the drone was destroyed

The Mini 3 Pro performs well in tracking and the tridirectional obstacle sensors are very useful on plenty of occasions

But this model should not be used for close-range tracking, but rather be kept well above surrounding obstacles

The only two prosumer drones that can seriously handle tracking around obstacles remain the Mavic 3 and the Skydio 2

If You Prefer To Watch This as a Video

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I am Vittorio Caramazza, aka Vicvideopic, the founder of this website and author of all the posts. I am a videographer and photographer contributing to several stock agencies. I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Lightroom. I have 10 years of experience with dron videography and photography. I was struck by drone syndrome in 2013. I have owned and tested in depth the following drones: Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Mini, Mini 2, Air 2, Air 2s, Autel Evo Nano Plus, Mavic 3, Mini 3 Pro, Mini 3. My home has turned into a breeding ground for drones. I am the owner of two YouTube channels specializing in Videography and Photography, with a focus on drones My main channel is VicVideopic (in English): My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: I am currently based in Sicily (Southern Italy), but I tend to move quite often. After all, this is one of the main benefits of being a digital nomad…

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