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Reverse Beacon Flight (Facing Away from Beacon Holder) Possible?

FlyingX

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Hi pilots!

I am a Skydio 2 pilot and have been using the drone for mostly fun and family flights - I have an opportunity to use the Skydio at a parade this week and of course, following all safety precautions I have a scenario question:

Is there a way to use the autonomous follow beacon track my movements, but face away from me at the subject/action?

My filming intent is to ride a Onewheel or eScoot, and have it film the action ahead of me, behind me, to my side, etc. but not me, of course, just following my pace along the route.

Any thoughts?
 
If you're using the beacon it's going to want to point the camera at the beacon, I don't think you can turn that off.
 
If you're using the beacon it's going to want to point the camera at the beacon, I don't think you can turn that off.
Agreed that’s what it does out of the box - no options for turning the cam away from the beacon

I’m wondering if there’s anyone who’s had the drone follow the their movements but aim in a different direction - thinking about my Mavic Pro, iirc I can do a ground-device follow but aim the camera in any direction
 
unfortunately you're going to have to give the beacon to someone in front of you or else you can use the camera to lock on and follow/track the target subject in front of you. but i get your point, and it's a good point, same as we have right now...but add 180 degrees to the camera (effectively the opposite direction); as if you were driving cattle! i think we have to wait for the 360 degree camera to get that feature.
 
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Agreed that’s what it does out of the box - no options for turning the cam away from the beacon

I’m wondering if there’s anyone who’s had the drone follow the their movements but aim in a different direction - thinking about my Mavic Pro, iirc I can do a ground-device follow but aim the camera in any direction
Let us know if you can figure that one out. Tracking a different subject would work but if it's moving automatously it wants to be tracking a subject or else it just sits there. Manual flying is a different story.
 
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I think this is the function you want but not available in the consumer S2.
 
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I have asked for this feature for years. For some boneheaded reason, Skydio decided this is a great feature but too great for consumers and only available for military and Enterprise. Funny, 'cause there are other makes of drones that have this feature.
 
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Definitely no way to do what I was hoping other than just doing an active track on the subject then cut to another subject

But here’s some free marketing for Skydio - put my name on it if it becomes a Skill:

Skill Name: “Pack Mode”

Description: Packs of Wolves or riding in a pack - the leader is out of the shot but their motion is tracked by the beacon and rear cameras- the camera faces 180* of the Lead’s path

Make it happen @Skydio!
 
Yep - exactly this - nice find!
Yuneec drones have a feature called "Follow Me". This is different than what most people think of. They also have a feature called "Watch Me". Essentially they make the aircraft Follow the controller but "Watch Me" keeps the camera locked on the controller and "Follow Me" frees the camera while the aircraft continues to track the controller. It's a perfect example of what this thread is asking for. And clearly it can be done as Skydio has implemented it in Enterprise versions. Why it's not in consumer I have no idea.
 
I would be very reluctant to use the SD2 around a parade or large group, you may not know this but you cannot count on the drone to avoid other moving objects and that can include people. It sees stationary objects and objects it deems as selectable (people/vehicles) but that number is limited. It will fly right into a moving object if it's not been previously ID'd as a potential subject (as shown with a + on the app screen). Sometimes it perceives slow moving objects as a stationary object and flies around it. I've seen it do this with jeeps coming slowly up the trail that I encounter but I don't count on it, I've also had it pass a moving vehicle within inches with obviously zero avoidance, more then once. Same with people. Any moving objects that aren't id'd with a "+" on the app screen (meaning it's subject selectable) isn't there as far as the OA is concerned unless it's fairly still. SD also warns of this but until you see it happen you'd never think the SD2 could totally ignore something so obvious. A friend had a close call when the drone passed right through airspace where his head was seconds before. We both were expecting it to avoid him, it acted like like he wasn't there. I often ride with a group and 4 people fairly close together seems to be it's limit to reliably track a subject. When you get many it's far less likely to lock back the original subject if it's view get interrupted momentarily which isn't unusual.
 
My Yuneec Typhoon H was an excellent follow drone capable of 50 mph follow. The Typhoon H was a GPS follow drone like the 3DR Solo. Both drone's we're dependant on GPS for follow, not optical. Being GPS based the camera's were not the primary follow method used like an optical follow drone like DJI Active track. This allowed the camera to be decoupled from the controller.

3DR was the first to do this as far as I know and Solo is still one of my favorite drones. I would say only the Parrot Anafi can get close to Solo's autonomous moves. Solo had "free look" way before the others where you could follow and pan the camera. Yuneec did a good job with follow and watch me and the Typhoon is a great high speed follow drone but can not match Solo's moves.

In comes the Parrot Anafi. Anafi had good moves and used a combination of GPS and optical for follow. While Anafi could follow GPS only and release the camera Parrot limited it greatly where you could only go feet from the controller or the the drone would stop and hover.

DJI used GPS follow with the P3 and early P4 as I remember which worked well at low speeds when combined with VPS. DJI thought they made a big step up when they introduced Active Track which was optical only follow. Not using GPS for follow meant the drone could decouple from the controller and follow a random subject. Picking and following random subjects using off board follow was the holy grail of follow but IMO it was plagued with issues. AT1, AT2... I tried them all and don't trust them.

It seems Skydio has chosen the safety of optical and GPS which required for follow, especially in the consumer drones. This combination is more robust if flying into the sun, going behind an object like a tree where optical lock is fragile. Without GPS lock on the subject the drone gets lost if optical is lost and depth perception is poor. The trade off is you can't look away from the controller

I think Skydio knows this and is taking the safe path with consumer S2's.
 
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I would be very reluctant to use the SD2 around a parade or large group, you may not know this but you cannot count on the drone to avoid other moving objects and that can include people. It sees stationary objects and objects it deems as selectable (people/vehicles) but that number is limited. It will fly right into a moving object if it's not been previously ID'd as a potential subject (as shown with a + on the app screen). Sometimes it perceives slow moving objects as a stationary object and flies around it. I've seen it do this with jeeps coming slowly up the trail that I encounter but I don't count on it, I've also had it pass a moving vehicle within inches with obviously zero avoidance, more then once. Same with people. Any moving objects that aren't id'd with a "+" on the app screen (meaning it's subject selectable) isn't there as far as the OA is concerned unless it's fairly still. SD also warns of this but until you see it happen you'd never think the SD2 could totally ignore something so obvious. A friend had a close call when the drone passed right through airspace where his head was seconds before. We both were expecting it to avoid him, it acted like like he wasn't there. I often ride with a group and 4 people fairly close together seems to be it's limit to reliably track a subject. When you get many it's far less likely to lock back the original subject if it's view get interrupted momentarily which isn't unusual.
Always put safety first. And technically this scenario is not legal without a waiver from the FAA, but your points are well said. However, there is an 8 inch H
My Yuneec Typhoon H was an excellent follow drone capable of 50 mph follow. The Typhoon H was a GPS follow drone like the 3DR Solo. Both drone's we're dependant on GPS for follow, not optical. Being GPS based the camera's were not the primary follow method used like an optical follow drone like DJI Active track. This allowed the camera to be decoupled from the controller.

3DR was the first to do this as far as I know and Solo is still one of my favorite drones. I would say only the Parrot Anafi can get close to Solo's autonomous moves. Solo had "free look" way before the others where you could follow and pan the camera. Yuneec did a good job with follow and watch me and the Typhoon is a great high speed follow drone but can not match Solo's moves.

In comes the Parrot Anafi. Anafi had good moves and used a combination of GPS and optical for follow. While Anafi could follow GPS only and release the camera Parrot limited it greatly where you could only go feet from the controller or the the drone would stop and hover.

DJI used GPS follow with the P3 and early P4 as I remember which worked well at low speeds when combined with VPS. DJI thought they made a big step up when they introduced Active Track which was optical only follow. Not using GPS for follow meant the drone could decouple from the controller and follow a random subject. Picking and following random subjects using off board follow was the holy grail of follow but IMO it was plagued with issues. AT1, AT2... I tried them all and don't trust them.

It seems Skydio has chosen the safety of optical and GPS which required for follow, especially in the consumer drones. This combination is more robust if flying into the sun, going behind an object like a tree where optical lock is fragile. Without GPS lock on the subject the drone gets lost if optical is lost and depth perception is poor. The trade off is you can't look away from the controller

I think Skydio knows this and is taking the safe path with consumer S2's.
I completely agree. I used the 3DR Solo for work although never officially used Follow, only on my own and jot for product. I would agree, that ironically the Solo was probably the best overall, but it was still clunky since it had that big controller and your device. I suppose you could make something like a GPS wand like Yuneec's Wizard Wand or the Skydio 2's Beacon since the Solo was essentially open source, but out of the box it was still clunky. And the Solo was also clunky in flight as it had to rotate the entire Solo platform in the air to allow for "free lool". The Yuneec Q500 series also had this, it when Yuneec introduced the Typhoon H with its independent 360 gimbal and Wizard Wand, it really was quite an efficient platform at performing the Follow function while freeing the camera, and with the Wizard and the controller you could set the Typhoon H to Follow and control the camera independently. I did this while driving my Jeep on the beach in Oregon and it made it pretty effortless. Team mode with 2 controllers or the Wizard Wand and the controller was also quite nice with independent camera control on one controller and flight control on the other controller or Wizard Wand. I was disappointed when the Typhoon H Plus came out and did not support the Wizard Wand.

The main limiting factor with the Typhoon H was its size. But yeah, with its speed and its Intel RealSense I found it to be quite good at keeping up and weaving through adequately spaced trees along trails; obstacle avoidance did slow it down which is where Skydio 2 is superior, but it did well if the track and follow mission were planned out! I found it quite nice with mountain biking on high alpine trails with not super dense vegetation.

I was disappointed that the ANAFI didn't really have independent GPS track. But it was not bad for what it was. I'll have to break out my old Parrot Bebop 2 Power to verify this, but I seem to recall it actually having a follow mode with a "Free Look" feature. Parrot charged extra for that follow feature in the app but it was what, $15.00? $20.00. Hell, it seems Skydio could do well by giving us this "Free Look" feature for even $100.00! But I guess they'd rather us pay for the Enterprise version at what, $2000.00 per year or something or is it just the one time $5000.00 or whatever?

It just seems like such an easy thing to do to allow for a "free look" feature. I often find that shots are too focused on the subject and not the overall scene which make the shot seem restricted, claustrophobic, and not very cinematic. Sometimes the Skydio is too high or too close to capture the background in a cinematic way because it's too focused on the subject.

I have also noticed that the Skydio 2 doesn't do that well flying into the sun. I have often found that my early morning sunrise shots or late afternoon sunset shots are ruined because the **** thing will not budge as it sees the sun as an obstacle and doesn't know how to get around it! So I have resorted to other drones, mostly my Typhone H Plus. I wish Skydio would give us the option to turn obstacle avoidance off to avoid this. It would also allow for flying the Skydio 2 at night or low light. Sometimes I can't take off under tree canopy when it's cleat and sunny all because the Skydio believes the contrast of dark and light is because it's too dark, or being able to fly through a short tunnel with clear exit on the other side and the tunnel being over 10 feet in diameter.

Not to complain, but the Skydio 2 does have its quirks. But it's a blast to fly in the right situations and I love the imagery it does capture.
 
I agree, sometimes the singular focus on a specific subject isn't ideal for what you're trying to capture in the video. I combat that somewhat by standing off at a greater distance to pull in the group I'm with. Placing the drone to the rear and distancing it off to the 3rd distance does a pretty good job of videoing a group but it's still not ideal. What occurrs occasionally for me is there will be 4 of us and part way through the flight it will lock onto another rider in the group. I've used that to my benefit in some of my videos. I've gotten pretty good at using the beacon's blue button to revert it back to me being the subject.
 
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I agree, sometimes the singular focus on a specific subject isn't ideal for what you're trying to capture in the video. I combat that somewhat by standing off at a greater distance to pull in the group I'm with. Placing the drone to the rear and distancing it off to the 3rd distance does a pretty good job of videoing a group but it's still not ideal. What occurrs occasionally for me is there will be 4 of us and part way through the flight it will lock onto another rider in the group. I've used that to my benefit in some of my videos. I've gotten pretty good at using the beacon's blue button to revert it back to me being the subject.
Yeah, you have some really nice shots of you and your friends riding. The Skydio tends to still zoom too close to the tracked subject as seen in some of your clips losing that cinematic feel. Good editing can remedy this but I don't want to edit. And the Skydio should still have the ability to free look so it maintains a horizon view. It's just so basic. But yes, putting the Skydio farther back and higher can help but then the subject could be too small. It's a gamble.
 

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