Make no mistake: The emerging drone industry is a competitive one, and it will take the lives of many businesses on its path to widespread adoption. Lily Robotics is the latest casualty in the industry. Lily’s cofounders Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow announced plans to wind down the company and refund its customers.
“After so much hard work, we are sad to see this adventure come to an end,” they wrote in an announcement. “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 preorder customer. Thank you for believing in our vision and giving us the opportunity to get this far. We hope our contribution will help pave the way for the exciting future of our industry.”
Lily was developed out of a UC Berkeley robotics lab with the idea of providing an easy-to-control drone that captured images and videos automatically while following its subject.
Just this time last year, the company announced it had obtained US$15 million in a private funding round, along with 60,000 preorders amounting to $34 million. However, due to roadblocks with its flight software and hardware, the company was forced to keep delaying its shipments.
“In the past year, the Lily family has had many ups and downs. We have been delighted by the steady advancements in the quality of our product and have received great feedback from our Beta program,” the cofounders wrote. “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.”
According to the company’s FAQ, the drone was also unable to provide obstacle-avoidance capabilities, and couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t hit anything while automatically following users. Those who preordered the drone should expect a full refund over the next 60 days and will not need to take any further action.
“We want to thank you for sticking with us and believing in us during this time,” the cofounders wrote. “Our community was the drive that kept us going even as circumstances became more and more difficult. Your encouraging words through our forums and in your e-mails gave us hope and the energy we needed to keep fighting.”