I'm not someone who is big into drones and flying cameras -- mostly because they take a lot of effort to learn how to fly. More importantly, there are typically many more things I'd rather spend my money on. Then I received an email from Antoine Balaresque, CEO of Lily Robotics, introducing me to Lily, and I threw all those reasons out the window.
Early last week I had the opportunity for Antoine to come down from New York City to meet with me so I could test out this crazy little bugger. After watching the initial video, I was all for it; then my husband watched it and informed me we will be buying one. The simplistic design and the usability just gets you.
I will first state that when it comes to gear, if it’s sleek, I need to own it. This is where Lily first got me hooked. It’s a simple midnight black polycarbonate with brushed aluminum details. It has blue macaroni-shaped eyes that are situated right over the camera, which now looks like a full face. It’s an electronic, but it’s personable. It comes in at right under three pounds and is only 10.3 inches wide. This makes it an extremely easy task to bring Lily anywhere. It has about twenty minutes of flight time due to its built in lithium ion battery, but only takes two hours to charge completely.
In the video, they throw Lily in the water, and she takes off. She’s 100 percent waterproof. Then they throw her in the air, and she stumbles, turns on, and flies off. This is due to an accelerometer that makes it so when Lily detects she is falling, she turns on her blades. She can move upwards of 25 miles an hour while ranging from five feet off the ground to 50 feet off the ground.
The nitty gritty is how Lily works. Instead of the typical controller, Lily uses a tracking device. You can either wear it on your wrist or you can throw it in your pocket. Then Lily will follow you around based on where you are with the tracker. This means that you don’t have to use a typical controller to tell her to go forward or backward. If you do want that much flexibility in the flying, then you can use the Lily Robotics app. It will give you full control over Lily to let you decide if you want her to lead, follow, circle, zoom in, or even take a dronie. For those wondering, that’s a drone selfie. Lily records in 1080p at 60 FPS/720p at 120 FPS and takes 12-megapixel photos.
Lily also has something called autonomous flight, powered by computer vision. Within the app you can have Lily face you and take a virtual memory of what you look like, so in the event that you get out of her view, she will rotate until she finds you. When we received the video, one of the owners of Fstoppers, Patrick Hall, thought Lily was too good to be true. Then, after I came back from the demo, I assured him it’s 100 percent real, and it was just as amazing in person as it was in the video. Most importantly, if you can fly a kite, you can fly Lily. It’s in accordance with all FAA guidelines.
Pre-orders begin today and will ship in February 2016. The pre-sale price is only $499, and that lasts for the next 29 days. After that, the price jumps to $999. I did confirm with the Lily Robotics team that this is not a crowd-funding operation. The team has received a million dollars in funds to begin production, so there are no minimum orders to be fulfilled. If you order one, you get one.
If you're looking to check out Lily in more detail, go to their website.