Today we will be exploring Active Track in more detail.
First, I would like to say that this is not going to be a very thorough review of Active Track. The reason is because there was a series of events that prevented us from getting a full day of Active Track testing done. The good news is, because of those events, we now have something very special planned for day 7 of the Phantom 4 review. All I can say is that It involves lots of amazing video.
It Works Great on People
We haven’t had more than maybe one hour of Active Track testing. But from the tests that we did, it seems to be working as expected. For one of the tests, We tracked a person running down the street at about 8mph. Like I expected, the tracking works very nicely when following people around. The only time where it really has trouble is when you get closer than 8 feet away. If you are moving slowly at this distance it will still work, but making sudden movements (sprinting) will cause it to lose you.
Surprisingly, it can track subjects even when people or other objects periodically pass through the frame and cover up the original tracking point. If you cover up the original tracking point for more than a few seconds, it will eventually give up and stop looking for the target, but in every case where we had someone get in the way, it was able to figure out the difference and ignore the other person.
One thing that seems to help when tracking people is to have the person that you’re tracking spin around after pressing go. In theory, this should give the system a better idea of what you look like from different angles. For tracking things like cars, you could try the same thing, but instead of having the car rotate, the Phantom 4 can rotate around the car.
When It Gets Confused
So far, it’s been really fun trying out Active Track, but there’s one thing I noticed that you should be careful about. When tracking subjects that warp and shrink in size, sometimes the Phantom 4 will start speeding forward really quickly. Afterwords, it realizes this and tries to slow down, but it usually ends up passing the subject up and losing the target. I experienced this when tracking my brother as he did flips and twists in the air (Parkour/Freerunning. It didn’t do this every time he did flips but it did happen once or twice. I would assume that obstacle avoidance will kick in and stop the Phantom 4 from hitting anything when it does this, but who knows. To be on the safe side, I would stay in an open area if the subject that you want to track is rapidly changing in shape or size.
The Phantom 4 seems to have no problem tracking different kinds of people. The only thing that it really doesn’t like is when you wear black and white striped shirts. I think the fine details in the shirt make it difficult to track because the camera usually isn’t close enough to see them. When I first tried tracking someone wearing a shirt like this, it wouldn’t even get a solid lock on the target, but then after trying a few times it seemed like it was able to figure out how to track better.
If you’re wondering about tracking another drone using the Phantom 4, it can be done, but only very slowly. We tried doing this at the park and it worked out fine when the drone wasn’t moving. It even worked ok when tracking from above. High speed racing drone tracking is just not possible though. I think we are still a few years away from seeing drones that can track something as small and fast as an FPV racing drone.