Despite $34M in Funding, AI-Powered Lily Drone Shuts Down

In 2015, an autonomous, AI-powered drone made waves when the creators showed off their concept of a quadcopter that will track, follow, and film a particular subject. From a skier going down a mountain to a person playing on the beach, all you would need to do is wear a tracking band and the Lily drone would follow and film you. Unfortunately the dream is no more, as last night the company announced they would be shutting their doors, regardless of the $34 million they raised through crowdfunding and $14 million series A round.

“In the past year, the Lily family has had many ups and downs,” stated Lily’s cofounders Henry Bradlow and Antoine Balaresque in a joint blog post. “At the same time, we have been racing against a clock of ever-diminishing funds. Over the past few months, we have tried to secure financing in order to unlock our manufacturing line and ship our first units – but have been unable to do this. As a result, we are deeply saddened to say that we are planning to wind down the company and offer refunds to customers.”

According to the camera company, backers of the Lily drone can expect a refund; however, they did not state if it would be a full refund. It would appear that the founders are using the remaining funds from the Series A – backed by Spark Capital, SV Angel, Joe Montana, and Steve Aoki – to issue the money back over the next 60 days. The 60,000 backers will not need to take any action to receive the refund unless the associated card has since expired.

Though notably Lily was announced ahead of the pack, the concept and technology has since been integrated into well established brands such as DJI, which also offers varying degrees of obstacle avoidance as well. Smaller drone makers such as Hover will also begin to fill the gaps for where Lily is falling off, also at a similar price point, but at reduced functionality.

In a market now saturated with new tech, gadgets, and various bits of hardware, consumer confidence tied to crowdfunding will continue to take hits like this. MOTA is another such example, as they launched several crowdfunding and pre-order campaigns in an effort to produce a smart ring. However, they are now close to two years behind their scheduled delivery period. In Lily’s case, their offering of a refund should lessen the blow.

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Written by:
Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@) or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.
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