Lily Autonomous Drone Camera

Posted: May 13, 2015

My friend Cornelius and I threw a Lily in the air once in 6th grade. She dropped like a sack of twice-baked bacon and brown butter potatoes. (Don't worry, there was a lake there to catch her.) But throw this Lily in the air and she'll not only stay there, she'll fly. And she'll follow you wherever you go. Filming your exploits, triumphs, and feats of strength from above. And she'll do it all on her own, completely autonomously.

Lily's creator, Antoine Balaresque, calls his team's lady simply a camera, reinvented. With no remote controller or pilot required, Lily might look a little like a quadcopter and act a little like a drone, but its flights and feats are accomplished with zero human manipulation. Instead, the personal cameraman tracks its target via computer vision technology and GPS. Lily stands out from from other auto-follow drones in part because it is an all-in-one system (as opposed to a drone with an attached camera, purchased separately), and in part because its pre-order price, available until June 15, 2015, is less than half the $1,200+ tags on the likes of the AirDog and HEXO+. Lily anticipates shipment dates beginning in February 2016.

Lily also promises to arrive assembled and set up, with the intuitive operational steps of: 1) Throw the camera in the air to start a new video; 2) Go about the business you want photographed and recorded.

Lily's polycarbonate and aluminum body was designed to be sturdy and waterproof. It's heftier than most quadcopters at close to 3 pounds, but the added weight is needed to accommodate internal sensors such as an accelerometer, three-axis gyro, barometer, GPS, and front- and bottom-facing cameras. Following users via a small tracking device they wear or hold, the camera can shoot 12-megapixel stills and HD 1080p videos at 60 frames per second. The tracking device communicates position, distance, and speed to the on-board sensors, which then determine where and how close to fly. Lily takes off from and lands in its owner's hand.

The camera will fly at a maximum speed of 25 mph and maximum overhead height of 50'. Sensors will also ensure it never roams more than 100' away from its user, or get closer than 5' (to any object). Users will also have the option to specify an exact location or path for Lily to fly.

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