Self-flying camera drones seem to be the darling of CES–the annual consumer electronics show to be held in Las Vegas next week. Last year, Nixie–a wearable self-flying camera drone and winner of the Intel Make It Wearable Grand Prize– delivered the CES Keynote. This year, another self-flying camera drone, Lily, won the coveted Innovation Award. The question remains, however, will either of them or any other self-flying camera drone for that matter make it to market soon?
A year later, Nixie has yet to set an availability date, while Lily is taking pre-orders now for an August delivery. If Lily does ship on time, it would make a pretty sweet tool to capture action video sans film crew and at $800, not that far out of reach.
Lily really is a throw-and-shoot-camera. No setup required. Just throw Lily in the air to start a new video. The self-flying camera drone combines computer vision, GPS, and stable, high-resolution image capture to document your adventures. You can choose whether you want the drone to follow behind you, take side shots, lead, loop around, or even hover next to you. Lily hones in on a tracking device you wear that also lets you control the device and take snapshots.
Lily weighs around 3 pounds and is less than a foot square. The front and bottom facing cameras capture either 1080p 60 fps or 720p 120 fps video with a 94-degree field of view. The cameras can also take 12 MP stills. Lily will fly between 5-50 feet in the air and from 5-100 feet around you, reaching speeds up to 25 mph.
The one kicker–the built-in Lithium-ion battery delivers only 20 minutes of flying time before it needs to be recharged for the next 2 hours. So you better capture the action on the first go. You will also need to register your Lily as it falls within the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems criteria.