RIP, Lily Drone: $34 Million in Pre-Orders Isn't Enough to Save It

The "drone that flies itself" actually won't be flying at all.

Back in 2015, we reported on an inspired new piece of tech that would pave the way for "follow along" drone production in the years to come. The Lily was one of the first of its kind: an ultra portable drone that follows a tracking device that you wear on your wrist. All you had to do was throw the thing in the air, and voila! It would fly according to whichever flight path you chose.

The Lily featured a camera capable of 12-megapixel stills, 1080p footage at 60 frames per second, and 720p video at 120fps with a 94-degree field of view. For action enthusiasts, its additional waterproof capabilities were just the cherry on top.

The company has stated it will use its remaining assets to get your money back. 

It was first thought that Lily would begin shipping in early 2016 for a street price of $1,000. With a nifty little pre-order, however, you could nab the drone for almost half the price, at $499. Perhaps it was this deal that allowed Lily Robotics to rack up $34 million in pre-orders for 60,000 machines. Unfortunately, in a blog post put up earlier today, co-founders Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow explained that it just wasn't enough.

Apparently, Lily Robotics had finally gotten the product ready for release after nearly two years of R&D, a lengthy duration which led many to believe they were getting scammed. During this extensive research and development stage, the company ran out of money; eventually, there wasn't enough left to actually produce drones to fill the pre-order sales. 

If you are one of the unlucky few that decided to go in on the pre-order for this drone, take solace in the fact that the company has stated it will use its remaining assets to get your money back. In fact, you won't have to do anything if you still have the card bought it with; if you don't, you'll have to fill out this form.

RIP, Lily.     

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Your Comment


Bad management. 34 Mil should have been WAY more than enough to create this drone. Always be cautious before giving to crowdfunding campaigns. It may become a donation.

January 12, 2017 at 1:21PM

Jordan Mederich
Documentarian / Filmmaker

Pre-orders aren't always full price. I doubt they had $34M cash at hand. And like the post said, they're working to give the pre-order sales back, which means they probably had certain funds locked away in case things go south. So the actual R&D cash they had was much smaller then what the public eye thinks.

January 13, 2017 at 8:23AM


I continue to lose faith in these crowdfunding campaigns. We are either informed of massive delays or like Lily, it never comes to fruition. 34 million isn't enough? Maybe they should have used a little of that money to hire a manager that helped them stay on track and manage the money wisely.

January 12, 2017 at 3:45PM

Gusto Lopez

This is sad.. people used their hard earned money to fund the project and after several years all the money towards R&D for the last two years. I am sure they enjoyed the gravy train for the past few years. I think there should have been more transparency in the project.

January 12, 2017 at 4:45PM, Edited January 12, 5:15PM

Walter Wallace

Agreed. More and more we hear that word: transparency. As in there's never enough. Too bad, of all the crazy ass projects out there I thought this one would be fine. Ya never know.

January 13, 2017 at 5:54AM

You voted '-1'.

It's the same with the Pandora DSLR Optimizer.
3 years later and no shipment for pre-orders.
And yet they continue their campaign to collect funds for their phantom product.
No more crowd funding for me.

January 13, 2017 at 5:00AM


Doesn't the Hexo drone already do what Lily would have?

January 13, 2017 at 8:44AM

Jamie Neale
Head of Moving Image

I just can't get excited about crowd funding any more. Too many projects I've funded either came up short, very late, or not at all. I recognize there is a risk, but the incentives usually don't outweigh the risk and wait. If a product is really good, I'll pay market price when it finally comes to market.

January 13, 2017 at 2:59PM

David Patterson

I guess this is the risk with tech startups that are in early development.
They approached it in a lean startup method fashion and found they indeed reached a market. Afraid of losing that market by first working on a good prototype, they went to secure funding with a too low presale (and no clue how to handle that amount of money).
Others have indeed built a drone that follows you around. There is even one with a much safer design where the rotors are inside a cage. So the fear of losing ground was real. Yet they failed to turn this premature success into a real business.
I guess nobody was interested to invest any further in this startup.
Most startups are not busy with bringing something to the market, but with getting funded again and again to hopefull bring a product to the market.

So, this kind of crowdfunding is not without risk.
The bad part is the Lily team hardly communicated anything, asif they were already ashamed and aware of the problems they got themselves in.

January 15, 2017 at 4:22AM

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