It became clear to me that my friends and listeners know me for my love of Drone flying this week when a new product just kept appearing in my social feeds. People tagging me on Facebook, posting to me on Twitter and sending me emails about one product. The Lily drone.
Launched online and going viral very fast, the Lily drone has a few unique selling points which is why it attracted all the attention.
Firstly, once you set it to fly, you just throw it in the air and it flys. Drop it off a bridge and it flys.
The reason that’s awesome is it takes the challenge out of take off, and the way it works is the second cool thing.
You wear a small tracker, and that’s the device the drone is able to latch on to so it knows where to fly and what to point at.
This is not new, the Hexo+ we saw at CES in January was based on the same principal, using your smartphone as the tracker, and flying itself to take the photo or video you want.
From the promotional video (uploaded to YouTube less than a week ago – it already has almost 3 million views) we can see that the autonomous options are to Follow you, Lead you, Fly up looking at you, alongside you, and loop around you.
The on-board camera takes 12 megapixel stills, and 1080p video with 60 frames per second slow-mo’s for the action fans.
It seems to land right in your hand, and offers 20 mins flight time.
The flight time is a good 5 mins more than the popular DJI Phantom, but there’s one key thing which really makes this interesting. It’s waterproof.
That feature makes me realise where Lily has its biggest market.
You see the concern with an autonomous drone which you aren’t flying with stick controllers is that they have no awareness of its surroundings. If it’s in lead mode and you’re heading toward trees it’s just going to fly into them and crash.
But as it’s waterproof there’s a huge market for surfers, kayakers, and anyone involved in water-sports.
All in all – a very interesting prospect, and if you’re into taking a risk, you can snap one up for $529 (USD) including delivery. It won’t arrive until early in 2016, but if you wait you’ll be in a queue for a while, and have to pay at least double that.
Worth the risk? Quite possibly so.
Throwing a $500 gadget off a bridge in the hope it “just flys” – well, that’s something we’re going to have to see with our own eyes before we believe it.
Check it out and pre-order online at Lily