DJI Air 3 FULL ActiveTrack Flight – Fully Autonomous!

All right, so this is the benchmark that we've run with pretty much every single drone that's come out within the past couple of years – a full Active Track flight. So in this video, we're going to be testing the brand new Air 3 from DJI throughout this neighborhood and then on the golf course while I ride my OneWheel. So, why don't we get things started? We'll drag a box over us, go ahead and press on ‘Active Track', and now the drone is flying all by itself.

So as we ride around, we'll talk a little bit about Active Track on this drone, what's new, and maybe what's not so new. Because this is coming out after the Mavic 3, and this really takes a lot of the technology that's in the and puts it into a smaller, more affordable drone.

Now, this course we're running here, as you guys might know, isn't the most difficult for the drone to follow. I think that it's fairly average, right? We have a lot of open areas in which the drone is able to just freely follow us. But there are areas like this right in the beginning that tend to be a little bit more challenging for the drone. So we've got some trees, we've got some signs, we've got things that you might encounter on an everyday Active Track flight.

Now to keep in mind, the Air 3 has an upgraded suite of obstacle avoidance sensors. So it has these larger fisheye cameras that first came onto the DJI Mavic 3. We've got it hanging up just a little bit there, it's being cautious, but it's able to come and catch up to us fairly quickly.

So we've got these wider-angle fisheye cameras on the Air 3. Excuse me if I call it the 3 just because it's going to be a force of habit. Those wide-angle cameras will give it the ability to see obstacles a lot better.

Now, with Active Track 5.0 here on the that's coming down from the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, the Mavic 3, Mavic 3 Cine, that line of drones, you'll notice we can tap on the person icon on the screen and say ‘put it over to the left of us.' So now the drone is going to track us from the left side, at least it's going to try to catch up. Oh, it's getting really close. That got really close.

Now, let's go ahead, and we'll go and flip it over to the right side. The reason is because we, of course, have these trees here. So what's the drone going to do? It seems to be wanting to fly straight forwards. It's an all-right move; there are a bunch of trees there, so hopefully, it doesn't just keep flying back and crashing. Okay, nice, it dodged around the trees. It should recognize to pick us up from the right side over here.

I will say that in one of my flights, I had the Skydio 2 just completely wreck into the trees right there. So, that was a great little maneuver from the DJI Air 3.

Now, this is the area where I'm always most concerned about the drone and its tracking, primarily because we've got two trees and some water. And, you know, if the drone ends up crashing and going in the water, it wouldn't be a good thing.

I will say, really quickly, just a note about the DJI Air 3 in general, it has like this raspy tone to it, which is kind of weird. So, let's see… Ah, you know what? I feel like I freak out over nothing when coming over that bridge. It did a good job of tracking me.

Let's go ahead and let's put it back over to our right side. See, that's what's great about being able to change on the fly is, you know, being able to kind of understand your surroundings and put the drone in an area where you know it's going to do a good job of tracking you.

So, in that case, back there, I didn't want it to fly directly to the right because there were trees there. Let's see what it does here, though. Right, we've got it tracking off to the right side. We have a tree here, so it should make the maneuver to go around, which it did. So, it's still actually kind of just straight-up tracking me from behind but did a pretty good job of getting around that obstacle.

Dji Air 3 Full Activetrack Flight - Fully Autonomous

Now, as I mentioned, this does have those upgraded sensors, right? So, the wide-angle fisheye cameras – we'll call them – they're a higher resolution camera that got really close. Higher resolution camera with a wider angle field of view. We've got them on the front, and the bottom as well as underneath the drone, and these cameras are supposed to also be able to see upwards. So, this drone does have upwards obstacle avoidance.

Now, the DJI Mavic 3 series has an extra set of sensors just on the top; they're a different-looking sensor, if you will. It's the old-style obstacle avoidance sensor. So, while this drone is still going to do a really good job at dodging and avoiding obstacles, the DJI Mavic 3 is technically going to be a little bit better just because of those extra sensors.

Now, we've got a tree directed to the right; the drone is going to fly super close, come back and around, and should pick us up on the right side again, hopefully. Now, I will say that we've pretty much aced this test, if you will, with almost every single drone, even the Mini 3 Pro with just the forward sensors and those backward sensors that are much smaller than the DJI Air 3, did a great job.

Now, I noticed that the drone is flying very low to the ground to get around obstacles, and even in this scenario where there's a pretty challenging background here, it's able to understand that I'm the subject. I mean, I've got a gray sweatshirt with a gray-black top, so that's pretty impressive.

Let's go ahead and set it to follow us from behind again. I'm going to be making a left here. It does a good job at keeping up, right? I mean, there's a sign right there.

All right, so I don't know if the sign was even in the frame here on the drone, of course, I could see it, right? It was about to just completely run in. I'm going to stop here because there's a car coming. That is a nice car; he's got a nice taste in cars.

So that thing came to an immediate stop when it noticed that that sign was there, and the way that it was coming from the sign, like it was on the side where the sign was super thin.

Dji Air 3 Full Activetrack Flight - Fully Autonomous

Now, if you remember, the previous test that we did was with the DJI Mavic 3 Pro – at least the previous Active Track test was the Mavic 3 Pro with the 70-millimeter lens, and we suffered a crash. The drone didn't really do a good job at keeping up and tracking us, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, and I think the real reason behind that is because the field of view is just way too tight.

Right, like in a scenario, even here, where we do have some open areas but there's a lot of trees, that focal length is just too tight.

So using the 24-millimeter camera here on the Air 3, I think is going to lend to a much better result because the drone is able to stay closer to us and, therefore, it's able to avoid obstacles. So, I mean, this is like easy mode for the DJI Air 3.

We do have a canopy of trees overhead, but the drone stays low enough to avoid those trees and, of course, keep up. Now, the OneWheel is not the fastest electric vehicle. I mean, let's see; I think you can get a maximum of 14 miles an hour out of the Pint here.

But let's go ahead and spin around. This is usually our spin-around point. We'll do a sharp little turn, quickly spin, and come straight toward the drone. It flies right over us, loses us, spins around, pitches the camera up, and picks us back up. That was good, that was really good.

So basically, when using Active Track, the drone can determine and predict the movement that the subject made so that it can pick up and retrace the subject that you're looking to follow. Now, if you'll notice here at the bottom of the green box, it has a person icon. That's because, of course, I'm a human being. But if you were to track, say, a boat or a car, it would understand what it's tracking, and it would adjust its flight characteristics accordingly.

Now, what's cool about using Active Track is that you can adjust the camera movements. For instance, I could say, “Hey, I want to continue to have me following at the bottom of the frame.” I'm going to just quickly push the altitude up on the drone, the reason being that there is a car coming. But that brings us into another reason why I really enjoy Active Track and being able to hold the remote controller.

I just raised my altitude, and now the drone is following us from that height. But you'll notice we have some trees coming up here. I can lower my altitude automatically, and the drone knows, “Hey, I want it to follow me from behind at a lower altitude.” So, being able to make those changes on the fly is really great.

That brings me to what I'm expecting, or hoping, from a new version of Active Track in the future. Give me the ability to completely ditch my remote controller. Give me a beacon, give me something, give me anything.

We've got a person up here, and I wouldn't want the drone to run into that person, so give me a second while we make some changes.

Actually, let's see how it does tracking from way high up, way above the trees. It loses me there. “Hey, how are you?” It anticipated my movement really well and came to pick me back up. So now, we're tracking from a much higher height.

And again, that's why I love Active Track because you can make a lot of adjustments as you need to, and the drone just continues to follow. That was really good. I thought I was going to have to land the drone to make sure I didn't accidentally have a casualty here.

Something I'm looking forward to in a newer version of Active Track—we're on 5.0 now, maybe a 6.0—is a beacon. Let me ditch the remote controller for true hands-free flying. And also, our distance right now is half a mile away from the home point.

Typically, if you're going to be running Active Track, you're going to launch the drone, you're going to go miles away, have the drone follow you. If you're in a car and in the desert, you're going to be traveling so far away. The drone is then going to want to return to that home point, and that could be an issue. So, being able to update the home point automatically would be great. Allow the drone to update its home point every five seconds or so.

We're coming up on about a 10-minute flight here. I'm super impressed with how the DJI Air 3 has handled things. There's no surprise here because it's Active Track 5.0, which we've already tried and tested on the DJI Mavic 3, the Mavic 3 Pro, and the Mavic 3 Cine.

This will be an interesting test. We've got the drone up high, and we've got some tall trees here. I'm definitely going to be lost in the frame as the drone is higher up. So let's ride to the end of this road and see how it does. I like how even though it's anticipating my route, and even though it loses me, it's continuing to keep its flight very fluid. It doesn't stop. “Whoa, let's see what it does. Oh boy!” Alright, I'm going to stop it because I don't want to lose this drone.

It's like right in the trees. Let's see where it's at. Oh man, that's going to be tough to get out. Alright, back up, back up. I'm going to have to put it in the sport mode to help. “No, no, no, it's good.” Alright, wow, it is really tucked in there. I'm going to flip into sport mode to slowly back it out.

Of course, we're going to end on a small failure like that. It's still anticipating me to be up there. Let's see, is it going to pick me up if I walk into the frame? “Hey, I'm right here.” No? Alright, so our high-level Active Track didn't work, but we can pick it back up once we have this car pass by.

So, that was really impressive, that the drone was able to stop itself and not completely run into the tree. In my first Active Track test with the Mavic 3, I lost a Mavic 3 that way; it got stuck up in the tree. So, fortunately, we aren't repeating ourselves here.

Let's try a little bit of front tracking. That's how we'll wrap this video up. We'll tell the drone to follow us from the front at a lower altitude and see how it does. That's the one thing I've noticed with Active Track that needs a bit of work. If I tell the drone to follow me directly from the left, it'll take a while to get there. Let's go and hit “front” like that and see what it does.

So, obviously, the drone is kind of anticipating my movements and it's saying, “Hey, the person's following this way. We need to go backward.” The drone is right on top of me. Let's see, can I push—? I don't know, I'm right underneath it. Come on, go a little bit faster. So, let me, I'm just going to really push it and see what it does here.

We do have something akin to a canopy of trees overhead, but the drone is maintaining a low enough altitude to evade those trees and, of course, keep up. Now, the OneWheel isn't the fastest electric vehicle. I mean, let's see, I think you get a maximum of 14 miles an hour out of the Pint. But, let's proceed and spin around. This is usually our spin-around point. We'll spin around and see how the drone reacts. So, we'll execute a sharp, quick turn, spin, and head straight towards the drone. The drone flies right over us, loses us, spins around, pitches the camera up, and picks us back up. That was really good.

So basically, when using Active Track, the drone can determine and predict the movement that the subject makes so that it can pick up and follow the subject you're targeting. Now, if you'll notice here at the bottom of the green box, it has a person icon. That's because I'm a human being. However, if you were to track a boat or a car, it would understand what it's tracking and would adjust its flight characteristics accordingly.

What's cool about using Active Track is that you can adjust the camera movements. For instance, I can say, “Hey, I want to continue to have me followed at the bottom of the frame. I'm going to quickly push the drone's altitude up.” I'm doing this because a car is approaching, but this also introduces another reason why I really enjoy ActiveTrack and holding the remote controller. As I raised my altitude, the drone is now following us from that height. But you'll notice we have some trees approaching here, so I can automatically lower my altitude, and the drone knows that I want it to follow me from behind at a lower altitude. Making these changes on the fly is really great.

This segues into my expectations and hopes for a new version of Active Track in the future. I want the ability to completely ditch my remote controller. I want a beacon. I want something, anything, right? There's a person up ahead, and I would hate for the drone to run into them. So, give me one moment while we make some changes. Actually, let's see how it handles tracking from way high up, above the trees. It loses me there, but anticipates my movement really well and picks me back up. Now, we're actually tracking from a much higher altitude, and that's why I love Active Track. You can make numerous adjustments as needed, and the drone just continues to follow.

I thought I would have to land the drone to avoid accidentally causing a casualty, but we're good. Now, something I'm looking for in a newer version of Active Track—we're currently using 5.0, maybe in 6.0—is the beacon. I want to ditch the remote controller for true hands-free flying. Also, consider our distance right now: we're half a mile away from the home point. Typically, if you're going to be running ActiveTrack, you'll launch the drone, go miles away, and have the drone follow you. If you're in a car or in the desert, you'll be traveling so far away that the drone will want to return to the home point, which could be an issue. So, the ability to update the home point automatically would also be great. Allow the drone to update its home point every five seconds or so because I wouldn't want the drone to fly all the way across the golf course and land where I initially took off.

We're coming up on about a 10-minute flight here, and I must say I'm incredibly impressed with how the Air 3 has handled things. There's no surprise here, given that it's Active Track 5, which we've already tested on the Mavic 3, Mavic 3 Pro, and Mavic 3 Cine. This will be an interesting test; we have the drone up high, and there are some tall trees here. I'll likely be lost in the frame as the drone is at a higher altitude. Let's continue to the end of this road and see how it does.

I like how, despite anticipating my route and even though it loses me, the drone keeps its flight very fluid. It doesn't stop abruptly. Oh, let's see what it does. Okay, I'm going to stop it because I don't want to lose this drone. It's stuck in the trees. Let's see where it's at. That's going to be tough to get out. Alright, I'll have to put it in sport mode to help it back up. Wow, it's really tucked in there. But, with the sport mode, I can slowly back it out.

Of course, we're going to end on a minor failure like that. The drone still anticipates me to be up there. Let's see, will it pick me up if I walk into the frame? No, it didn't. So, our high-level Active Track didn't work, but we can pick it back up once this car passes by.

It was really impressive that the drone was able to stop itself and not run completely into the tree. In my first Active Track test with the Mavic 3, I actually lost a Mavic 3 that way—it got stuck in a tree. Fortunately, we aren't repeating that here.

Why don't we try a bit of front tracking? That's how we'll wrap this video up. We'll tell the drone to follow us from the front at a lower altitude and see how it does. That's one thing I've noticed with Active Track that needs some work: if I tell the drone to follow me directly from the left, it'll take a while to get there.

We'll go ahead and hit ‘Front' and see what it does. The drone is currently anticipating my movements and knowing that it needs to go backwards since I'm moving forward. The drone is right above me. Let's see if I can push it a little bit faster. So, let me push it and see what it does here. It lost me. I'm going to…it's still flying. It's still flying backward, which is funny, but it lost me.

Let's try to go out into this open area. So, I'm manually flying right now, by the way. I'm going to try to put it a bit more out in the open. Now that we're in the open, we'll track ourselves with Active Track and go ‘Front.' So now, it's a little bit further away. But, it's still sitting right on top of me. I'd want it to be much further behind, just like with Active Track from behind. It's starting to do a little better here.

It's not as snappy as a would be. The Skydio is really good at this; when I say, “Hey, I want you to track me from the left,” it is on it. It gets right over there to the left side. That little delay can be somewhat annoying. Let's see what happens if I tell it to track me from behind. Let's see how quickly it takes to make that adjustment. I click ‘Back', and it appears to be making its move around to the side. That was smooth. But of course, we're in a much more open area here.

So, with that, why don't we conclude our Active Track test here with the Air 3? I'm impressed. Of course, we already kind of knew how this would fare because the Mavic 3 Pro did really well, and it pretty much has the same suite of sensors as well as the same version of ActiveTrack. We're kind of getting a little mundane here, I think, with Active Track, just because it keeps doing so well. Right? I'd love to be able to display some new features, like again, being able to use a beacon or something like that. So, DJI, if you're watching, that would be an awesome addition.

Now, this drone does have a 70-millimeter lens on it, which we didn't test here in the video. Just because the last time I tried 70 millimeters on such a tight area like this, it didn't do so well. But if you guys want to check out that video, I'll leave it linked in the description. That was with the Mavic 3 Pro, but you can pretty much assume that there's going to be similar characteristics and capabilities between the Air 3 and Mavic 3, just because they're so similar.

Anyway, thank you guys so much for watching. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below about the DJI Air 3 and Active Track 5.0. And as always, I'll talk to you later. Peace. Thank you.

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Billy Kyle
Billy Kyle

I make videos for the Internet. You can watch all of my drone videos on my YouTube channel and here on DroneXL.

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