Remember Lily? The cutesy, waterproof, tracking drone? It was a hugely popular crowd-funded project, but the company folded in January. Online, people voiced lament, concern whether they’d get refunds, anger that the video portraying the product included footage taken by a DJI, and sadness that this cool drone would never make it to the market.
And what wasn’t to love? Remember?
Of course you do. And some of you out there may have even contributed to the campaign, which ultimately raised some $34 million in advanced orders. At the start of the campaign (and we’re going by memory here), you could pre-order a Lily for $500. That was an amazing price for all of the promised features: Intelligent tracking, waterproof, 1080p video and more.
There were a couple of demonstrations of Lily prototypes for the media, but with less than stellar performance. There were delays, antsy consumers, and – late last year – growing rumours things weren’t going well at the company.
On January 12, people with standing Lily orders received the following email from co-founders Antoine Balaresque and CTO Henry Bradlow.
“When Lily set out on the journey to create a flying camera over 3 years ago,” reads the message, “we were determined to develop and deliver a product that would exceed your expectations.”
The past year, it reads, has been filled with many “ups and downs” – including the company’s failure to secure additional financing that it says would have allowed the firm to “unlock our manufacturing line and ship our first units…
“As a result, we are deeply saddened to say that we are planning to wind down the company and offer refunds to customers.”
Indeed, it appeared to be genuine sadness. Some legal papers were filed, but people in the know suggested the Lily campaign founders were truly crushed at having to end the project, and committed to getting refunds back to as many customers as possible. The world moved along, and we all assumed we’d never see a Lily camera again. But now we DO – and it’s a new and improved model called the Lily-Next-Gen, according to the website. Here it is, with folding metal arms:
How is it possible that Lily is back? Well, a quick look through the FAQ provides an answer:
“The original Lily was a crowdfunding project that unfortunately it did not succeed. Mota Group acquired assets of Lily and created this drone based on the very same basis Lily was on: Simplicity, Function, and Making a Difference. We also improved the functions significantly. We are just getting started!
“What is Mota Group?
“Mota Group is a American company headquarter’ed (sic) in San Jose, California. We have been in business since 2003 (way before even big players such as DJI) and have solid foundation of drones and robotics industry. This allows us to fully integrate latest and safest technology into the product and provide a product that industry can count on.
There are a few pictures of the drone, and one can’t help but be reminded of the Mavic Pro in the overhead shot.
As for “New and Improved” – the company has published a spec sheet that compares the old model with the Next-Gen. The biggest changes appear to be the geofence software, folding arms, and 4K camera – along with some intelligent features:
And, just like before, you can order it again. The retail price will by $699, including two batteries (18 mins per flight), rapid charger, and a carrying case. The site also says that for the next few days only you can order the Lily for $499 USD and it will ship within 30 days world-wide.
The original Lily campaign featured a video of the craft auto-starting when being tossed, landing on and taking off from water, and tracking a subject. Much of the the video work that appeared to be Lily’s had actually been captured by a DJI.
The new campaign, as least as far as we can see, does not yet have a video.