My first experience with a ‘follow-me’ drone


 (3D Robotics Inc.)

I looked over my shoulder, trying to avoid direct eye contact. A chill went down my spine as I walked near a marina in Berkeley, Calif. on a warm sunny day. I checked again, but couldn’t figure out what was causing my mild sense of dread.

“Someone is following me,” I thought.

That “someone” was a 3D Robotics Iris+ drone, which will debut this fall at a price of $750. It’s the first widely-available consumer drone that can use a “follow me” mode.

Several years ago, pundits in technology and the hobbyist market started talking about how aerial drones will one day follow us around, recording videos from a few hundred feet in the air. The idea is partly Orwellian in nature and partly a fun exercise in self-absorption.

Now it’s here. On the day of my test, two 3D Robotics employees launched the Iris+ drone into the air. It looks a bit like a metallic bug, measuring about two feet across. There’s a distinctive whirring sound, but the follow-me tech (which they call 3PV Follow Me) is unique in that you can set the drone to follow behind you in front, to the side, or in orbit.

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