Lily Camera Drone is Dead Without Doubt!
As a Chinese drone industry insider, almost a year earlier, I had expected the $34M crowd-funded project of Lily camera drone would definitely fail. Now my predication eventually came true. Lily camera team announced the closure of the company this January due to its unsecured financing.
So, they were really not able to bring the products to life just because of their financial crisis? Where did the funded money go? From my perspective of engineering, they just cannot deliver the fancy features that they had overpromised. Now let’s review some of them.
Throw and Go
Throw Lily in the air and it will fly itself, looks as easy as your old grandmother can play it. But the thing is how does the sensor identify whether the drone is being thrown into the air or not? Since a 1.3kg quadcopter doesn’t pre-activate the motors, how many seconds does Lily have before either chop off your fingers or crash to the ground? What if you flips it over? Current programming technology might be able to help a quadcopter regain the balance from a certain angle. But it actually depends on the man’s throwing gesture. The throw-and-go feature is truly immature and unnecessary, which might be one of the main challenges that beat Lily’s team, considering they’ve only got 2 engineers?
Lily declared itself to be IP67 waterproof. Meanwhile, I also noted on their website FAQ that “it is not recommended to spin the motors underwater.” Believe it or not, Splash drone is also IP67, and it can swim freely underwater like a submarine. It is not enough just to resist water. The motors and propellers are supposed to bear much more resistance when spinning in the water than in the air. Noticing the folding props and small power motors on Lily, the results might be: A. propellers bend or go off the motors; B. the motors get overloaded and burnt.
The most embarrassing part of Lily’s body is that the battery is not interchangeable. You just fly 20 minutes and then wait for 2 hours of charging.
Lily said it can precisely land in your hands. However, I cannot find holes under the frame for a secondary camera, ultrasonic or infrared. As far as I know, for now, only 2 companies in China can provide reliable visual tracking technology. One is DJI and the other is Hover Camera. DJI makes use of RGB color recognition for follow me and indoor positioning, while the Hover Camera only tells the human’s face. Neither of them has the ability to automatically land right onto a desired spot. This is much more dangerous than the throw-and-go idea, imagine that Lily lands on your head instead of your hands.
Lily’s follow shot relies on the combination of GPS and computer vision. Not just follow you behind, it even flies by your side or leads you in the front. GPS tracking makes sort of sense, but computer visioning? You? Even DJI Phantom 4 sometimes failed to track if the object gets out of sight or mix with the colors of the background.
The above video is a hands-on review of Lily’s prototype. In the video, you can see Lily lost control, flew away and almost hit the reviewer when took off. The prototype is attached with a large receiver antenna while Antonie, Lily’s father, hold an RC transmitter and a mobile phone to control the drone. Where did the tracking bracelet go? Probably because the watch controller doesn’t work as well as they expect. Watch controller gives very weak signals, added that Lily’s frame is fully sealed.
Until now, we’ve never seen a real footage filmed by Lily. Without a gimbal, it is impossible to get a smooth video like the one in their promotional video, which is 100% false. In fact, everything about Lily is a lie.
After a few months, Swellpro is going to release an all new waterproof sports drone called Freefly Pro with a 4K camera and a waterproof remote controller. It has similar features and size like Lily camera, but no unreal science fictions. Let us wait and see if it can deliver the true values to those who had been disappointed by Lily.