The Lily Drone: the flying camera that follows you

lily drone

Introducing the ‘Lily drone’ – the flying device that can track its owner, shooting video footage of them as they go 

Scopophobes, look away now: this 2.8lb drone, which won the CES 2016 Innovation Award, will, when hurled into the air, follow its owner via a tracking device worn on their wrist, shooting stills and video footage on the way.

Made by San Francisco start-up Lily Robotics, it is waterproof, has an HD 12 megapixel camera, a maximum speed of 25mph and packs a battery life of 20 minutes’ flight time from a two-hour recharge.

Aimed largely at skiers, snowboarders and athletes, the Lily is easy to use – there’s no controller, meaning owners can just hurl it up in the air before their run/slalom, letting them get on with their activity.

Furthermore, it offers more to sports enthusiasts than fixing a GoPro camera to their helmets. Rather than shooting footage from a first-person viewpoint, the Lily can film footage of them in action, prompting some newspapers to brand it a “selfie drone”.

However, the ‘Lily drone’s’ creators would prefer if their brainchild wasn’t likened to the aerial technology.

“We hate the word drone; we just want an easy-to-use autonomous camera,” says chief executive Antoine Balaresque. “For us, tech accessibility is not a downgrade.”

To allay any concerns about drone-style surveillance, the FAQ on Lily Robotics’ website points out that the gadget would be pretty useless for spying on your neighbours.

“The Lily camera is always pointing at you and less than 100ft from you,” it states. “The Lily camera’s motors make noise. So other people will most likely notice it and quickly figure out where you are. You are better off climbing up a tree and using binoculars.”

The company was founded in 2013 by University of Berkeley graduates in a campus robotics lab and has since booked 60,000 pre-orders and $34m (£23m) in sales despite few people sampling the product. 

The $499 (£352) gadget begins shipping in the US this month.


About author

Nick Scott

Nick Scott

A former editor-in-chief of The Rake and deputy editor of the Australian edition of GQ, Nick has had features published in titles including Esquire, The Guardian, Observer Sport Monthly and Rolling Stone Australia and is a contributing editor to Director magazine. He has interviewed celebrities including Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig and Elle Macpherson, as well as business people including Sir Richard Branson, Charles Middleton and Nick Giles and Michael Hayman MBE.

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