Lily Drone demo video that generated $49 million was bogus, says DA


Originally published at:


“Forbes, one of the few outlets to express journalistic skepticism from the onset,”

The same Forbes that named the founders to their 30 under 30 list?


I cut them a little slack for their lack of foresight 2 years ago.


Really wish Kickstarter/IGG/etc projects would be required to secure a performance bond so that if the project substantially fails to deliver in the timeframe they lay out (either from delays or the company closes shop). If your venture is super risky, you have to pay a significant amount to insure that if your project fails, the people who backed it get made whole


I guess I could sort of see requiring . . . something. . . for projects above some large dollar amount, but I can’t imagine what the premiums would be on an average kickstarted project.

Maybe not a bond, but maybe if kickstarter just had some independent people doing due-diligence on large projects? You accept risk when you back a kickstarter, but it would be nice if Kickstarter spent some of their cut trying to ensure that people aren’t being suckered on their platform


I just stopped crowdfunding after getting burned once too often. If your product is any good I’ll see it in stores and get one then. And, if your product is any good you can probably make traditional business loans work for you as well.

It has to be a hell of a project for me to crowdfund it.


Thing is… how would you know? I mean, who has the knowledge to correctly gauge the ratio of bullshit vs real in a sales pitch like that? I know I wouldnt - I’m saved by the fact I couldnt care less about drone filmmaking, but really, sometimes is difficult to see where would one get the voices with the expertise and knowledge to actually point the flaws.

Which means crowfunding days of excitement have to go back to the reality of people waiting till actual product is reviewed by actual experts (if you can identify them) because this ends up being less supporting ideas with some spare change, but just a preorder system for things that may be vaporware.


Well, Kelly Coyne didn’t straight up lie or lie by omission:
"the drone had been improved with different parts that would not be in the market device when it shipped."
Silly consumer, you bought a Lily drone, not a DJI or GoPro. Why would we ship one of those other devices to you? The consumer could probably duct tape an improvement on and get similar results. Their promo video shows that its possible.

And did anyone else read Kelly Coyne as Kellyanne Conway…does the name make the bullshit artist, or the artist makes the name?


I did have to read the name twice after a sudden wave of revulsion washed over me


Buying insurance that investments won’t fail doesn’t work because the insurance against the downside is going to be more expensive than the upside you are chasing with the investment. That’s just the way insurance works.


I presume that this one is real and works:

I had notes for how a selfie-drone would work and closed them when that came out.


I remember this video and thought it was very cool. I don’t see why they couldn’t actually make it work.


I see what my mistake was!

As soon as I started the notes, end of 2014, I should have announced the product with a cool fake video, crowd-sourced, and then tried to make it work. Silly me!


They could, it would just take more money than they brought in to do so. But, since they didn’t have the prototype that they told everyone about, it’s incredibly misleading.

I think they got into the most trouble because they did their own pre-ordering, and avoided KS. The FAQ literally makes it sound like they’ve done all the legwork and testing, that getting them out is just around the corner…


I guess the easy part is having it home in on a electronic beacon you could carry in your pocket. The hard part is having it not fly into a tree while doing it.


What? They seriously had a special device for that? In my notes I called the electronic homing beacon “your phone”.


Oh, maybe that’s true. I was mostly just mentally spitballing about how hard or easy it would be to make it work. I’m going off of a vague memory of the promo video that I watched when it first went viral.


It’s still a variant on pursuit/evasion games. There is a lot of prior work that’s been done in this area. Basically the drone has to:

  1. Plan a path that
  2. Keeps the beacon within camera sight while
  3. Evading obstacles.

The tough work is recognizing the obstacles (machine vision? RADAR?) that get in the way of the drone and the camera, and developing a precise enough beacon that’s free of GPS outage, multipath, IMU drift, etc.) There is so much out there already for path planning.


Well, the hard part is actually having it fly in the first place in varying wind conditions while following you and not getting lost. All these sketches show people skiing. In winds less than 15 MPH. All while not moving more than 15 MPH.

While skiing. On a mountain.

This thing makes it sound like you just toss it up and go do things, easy peasy!


In video games, where all the trees and walls can be easily queried by raycasts, it’s still kind of tricky to make something that will follow you at a reasonable distance and not get messed up by obstacles.

that having been said, the linked article makes it sound like the manufacturing side was a bigger challenge than the software side.