Despite $34 Million in Preorders, Lily Camera Drone Canceled
RIP Lily: Makers of the "world's first throw-and-shoot camera" are closing their business and refunding customers who pre-ordered one.
Unable to secure financing to manufacture and ship its drone, the startup today announced plans to "wind down the company."
"We have been delighted by the steady advancements in the quality of our product and have received great feedback from our beta program," founders Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow wrote in a blog post. "At the same time, we have been racing against a clock of ever-diminishing funds."
Bradlow and Balaresque built their first prototype in September 2013 in the basement of a U.C. Berkeley robotics lab, but Lily didn't make her debut until May 2015.
Users simply place a tracking device in a pocket or the waterproof wrist case, throw Lily in the air, and watch as she flies herself, using GPS and computer vision to follow you while shooting video and stills. A lithium-ion battery promised 20 minutes of flight time on a two-hour charge; the drone also has an IP67 waterproof rating.
Early-bird buyers pre-ordered the Lily Camera for $899 -- $100 off the expected U.S. retail price. As of January 2016, the firm had collected $34 million in pre-sales.
"Our community was the drive that kept us going even as circumstances became more and more difficult," the blog said. "Your encouraging words through our forums and in your emails gave us hope and the energy we needed to keep fighting."
Now, the company is focused on handling refunds, which will happen over the next 60 days.
"After so much hard work, we are sad to see this adventure come to an end," Balaresque and Bradlow wrote. "We are very sorry and disappointed that we will not be able to deliver your flying camera, and are incredibly grateful for your support as a pre-order customer."
"Thank you for believing in our vision and giving us the opportunity to get this far," they added. "We hope our contribution will help pave the way for the exciting future of our industry."