Lily Drone
Lily, an IP67 waterproof camera drone

Pictures of Lily
Lily, oh Lily
Lily, oh Lily
Pictures of Lily
– Pete Townshend, The Who –

editors note: Lily Robotics has announced that it is bankrupt. Customers who pre-ordered the product can apply for a refund here.

Here I go off on another tangent, I just can’t resist. I’m in love with Lily! For Christmas I sadly didn’t get a drone. Perhaps if I said I wanted a camera? With more than ten million views, the Lily video (below) has made the rounds. You may already be aware of this amazing product. You may also be aware that Lily isn’t a drone, it’s apparently a “self flying camera” that floats. You could also say it’s flying gold.  Lily has over USD$34 million in pre-orders!

Wait a minute, what’s the difference? Well who cares what Lily Robotics says it is. I still want one! The FAA says you need a license. I’m in Canada (sadly ships to the US only) so I have Transport Canada UAV Rules to worry about. Lily is under 2 kilograms, so it’s legal to fly here without a permit.  At least till the blanket exemption runs out in December. The biggest hurdle in our rules is having to wait 8 hours after consuming an alcoholic beverage before flying Lily. Lily will have to like me sober…

I’ve been hunting down a drone to launch from my boat for a while. Although I love the drones from 3DR and DJI, I’m not willing to fly them over saltwater. I might as well just lean out and drop 1.5 boat units into the blue. $1500 ish is more than I’m willing to sacrifice for a few hours of fun. Onwards in my search for something waterproof…

Surprisingly there aren’t many waterproof drone choices out there (other than Lily) that are affordable for anyone other than the US military. What I did find might be of interest though. QuadH2o makes a cool drone that lands on water and their HexH2o™ even shoots video below the surface. The HexH2o™ is the world’s first waterproof production multi-rotor housing a gimbal.  A gimbal is a pivoted support system that allows the camera to stay steady and move independently of the drone.  Lily has no gimbal and uses digital stabilization.

At US$3499 fully assembled for the Quad, it costs four times as much as the US$799 Lily on pre-order (arriving Summer 2016). To be fair they are quite different. Lily just follows you around semi-autonomously within 100 feet (50 feet max height above you). The Quad and Hex are longer range with more control over how you frame the shot. Unfortunately their battery lives are shorter than Lily’s. In the picture below, the Greenpeace flotilla was photographed by a drone. Greenpeace purchased a QuadH2o™for whale watching (although it wasn’t used to take this photo).

Greenpeace protest
Greenpeace protest, St Johns Bridge, Portland (Flickr credit Twelvism)

My main goal is to launch something off my boat and have it video me through the amazing and diverse scenery in the Pacific North West. I like the fact that Lily will land back in my hand with smiling eyes without me having to do anything except press a button. Controlling two moving objects at once would be way too challenging. Lily doesn’t like winds over 15 mph, so that might be a bit limiting with our summer north westerlies. Lily shoots 1080p video at 60 fps and slow motion video at 720p and 120 fps.

Lily has a wrist mounted waterproof tracking controller that contains various sensors to keep Lily’s eyes on you. A microphone in the controller records sound. There are also buttons for manual control (obstacle avoidance) and to snap 12 MP still images.

An IOS / Android app allows you to change camera settings, create custom shots and edit/share content. With more than 60,000 units sold in the US, Lily will be in full bloom this summer.

Because this is the internet of boats blog I feel obligated to tell you that Lily is also a flying HTTP web server. This allows videos to be downloaded from Lily via Wifi. In a dream Lily seeks out my next anchorage and then sends the location via Signal K? Now back to earth.

– Safe Boating –

Lily tracking device