Parrot’s new ‘follow me’ feature keeps drone eyes on you

Parrot has launched a new ‘follow me’ in-app feature for its drones that makes use of visual tracking to allow the Parrot Bebop 2 to follow you everywhere, keeping you in frame for all those times you absolutely need to have footage as you scale a mountain.

The new feature is used from within the FreeFlight Pro app and combines the new visual tracking with your smartphone’s GPS and barometer.

Your smartphone handles all of the positioning, though you may lose some of the accuracy if your phone is without a barometer for vertical tracking, while the visual tracking supposedly mimics the human eye with algorithms to better differentiate between user and environment.

Images courtesy of Parrot

Images courtesy of Parrot

The feature provides two different modes of operation: auto follow and auto framing. The auto follow mode is essentially designed for getting the perfect footage of you whether you’re walking, running or climbing a mountain. Once you’ve set the flight altitude, distance from subject and video angle, you’re ready to go and the drone will follow along with you centrally framed.

Within the auto follow mode itself there are multiple functionalities that allow you to customise the shot to get the perfect shot. Perfect Side allows you to set a shooting angle that the Bebop 2 will follow by determining your position in regards to the angle, while Magic Dronies offers the choice of several pre-programmed movements including a 360 degree orbit around you or a ten metre high parabola over the subject.

The second mode, auto framing, is about turning you into a drone film director.

Using the advanced visual tracking algorithms, the Bebop 2 drone consistently keeps its target at centre of frame. The mode has you piloting the drone while its camera works without intervention to adjust the drone’s camera and keep your subject perfectly framed.

dditionally, while managing a stationary flight the drone will readjust on its axis and readjust its camera angle to follow the subject and maintain the framing.

Across both modes of operation the intention seems to be to open up the range of drone filming and give users the ability to film from perspectives that would otherwise be unavailable. The follow me feature seems to sort of act as a third-person Go Pro, giving pilots the chance to film themselves at their most eventful without having to strap a camera to themselves.

The ‘follow me’ feature is currently available for iOS within the FreeFlight Pro application as an in-app purchase for £14.99 after a 15 day trial period. The Android version will be made available in December.

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You can now explore the International Space Station with Google Street View

If you’ve ever wondered what life is like aboard the International Space Station then Google has a treat in store for you because beginning today the ISS is available via Google Maps’ Street View.

Astronauts have been working and living on the ISS – a structure made up of 15 connected modules that floats 250 miles above Earth – for the past 16 years.

Now with Street View regular citizens can explore the station, and go everywhere from the sleeping quarters to where the space suits are kept. This is the first time Street View has ventured beyond planet Earth, and for the benefit of viewers the Street View feature also comes annotated, with handy little dots you can click on to explain what everything does, which is another first.

“In the six months that I spent on the International Space Station, it was difficult to find the words or take a picture that accurately describes the feeling of being in space,” said European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet in a blog post.

“Working with Google on my latest mission, I captured Street View imagery to show what the ISS looks like from the inside, and share what it’s like to look down on Earth from outer space.”

In his blog post, Pesquet goes on to describe how because of the constraints associated with living and working in space, it wasn’t possible to collect Street View using Google’s usual methods.

Instead, the Street View team worked with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to design a gravity-free method of collecting the imagery using DSLR cameras and equipment already on the ISS.

Still photos were captured in space that were sent down to Earth where they were stitched together to create panoramic 360 degree imagery of the ISS.

Images courtesy of Google

“There are a lot of obstacles up there, and we had limited time to capture the imagery,” recalled Pesquet.

“Oh, and there’s that whole zero gravity thing.”

Pesquet ended his blog post by revealing the inspiration behind the Street View and ISS collaboration.

“Looking at Earth from above made me think about my own world a little differently, and I hope that the ISS on Street View changes your view of the world too.” said Pesquet.