The Lily drone went down in crowdfunding infamy after the flying camera maker raised $34 million but failed to actually manufacture and ship the drone. Now, a new version of the Lily flying camera is about to hit the market. The Lily brand was purchased by the Mota Group earlier this year, and that company is launching the Lily Next-Gen, a modified version of the Lily.
The Lily Next-Gen includes a few updates but drops some of the camera’s more notable features. The camera gets an upgrade to 4K, with still photos bumped up by a single megapixel. The drone also adds one-touch takeoff and landing, along with Smart Hover, which the brand’s new owner says keeps the camera stabilized. The Next-Gen also includes geofencing, quick charge, and an external battery. And the drone’s arms will now fold in for increased portability.
There are also a handful of features missing that the original Lily promised. The drone no longer appears to launch just by tossing it up in the air, and the tech specs say nothing about waterproofing. The flight time also appears to be shorter, and there’s no mention of that wristworn tracker and controller.
The original Lily was unique (at the time, anyway) because the drone promised simplicity — just toss the Lily into the air and the drone would automatically track your movements and record you. That idea started back in 2013, with a prototype surfacing in 2015, but a number of Lily’s unique features aren’t so unique anymore. Autofollow features are easy to find, and there are a number of “entry-level” drones designed to be easy to fly, like DJI’s Spark and the GoPro Karma.
GoPro was actually one of the companies bidding for the Lily brand after the company announced its closure, according to Forbes, putting in a $250,000 bid on the intellectual property. The Mota Group ended up purchasing the branding rights for $300,000, while LR Acquisitions bought the company’s patents and prototypes.
The company behind the original Lily filed for bankruptcy in February, after two shipping delays and after running out of money to actually manufacture the drone. After a lawsuit for false advertising and unfair business practices was filed, the company allowed pre-order customers to file paperwork for a refund.
The Lily Next-Gen is expected to list for $799, with a $499 pre-order price — and the brand’s new owner is promising worldwide shipping in 2 to 4 weeks. But with the drone’s checkered past and the number of competing models now being marketed by established companies, it’s unclear just how well the new Lily will fly.