You visit incredible places. You go on adventures. You want someone or something to capture them—and you—for posterity. But instead of reaching out with a selfie stick, you reach into a backpack... and toss a drone up into the air to film it all for you.

It’s the dream, and a startup called Lily is giving us our best glimpse at that dream yet in this extremely well-produced video.

A waterproof drone that can follow me while kayaking rapids, and take giant 360-degree selfies with my entire family in the picture—why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

The answer, unfortunately, is that they have, only nobody’s gotten the idea of a fully autonomous flying camera to actually work. There are all kinds of potential issues, like how a nice big camera drone is supposed to avoid crashing into objects without a human at the controls, and how to keep it reliably locked onto the person it’s supposed to track. Computer vision is still in its infancy, Wi-Fi can be pretty unreliable, and GPS isn’t accurate enough.

We’ve met up with Lily on two occasions now, and the company’s gracious founders have had a hard time showing us a prototype that just works. Their system sounds pretty neat—you place a simple remote on your body which broadcasts a signal that the drone can follow—and it did indeed follow us around, but it wasn’t able to keep the 1080p60 camera locked on us for long.


The prototype Lily requires a smartphone and a large Wi-Fi broadcasting box, but should evolve into the tiny remote on the left.

But I think someone will crack the code. It just makes so much damn sense to have a super-stable flying camera instead of holding one up with my arms.


Perhaps Lily will be the one. If you think so, you can pre-order one on the company’s website today for $500. That’s half the $1,000 it’ll cost in February when—the company claims—it’ll start shipping the product. That’s a big discount, but I’d wait and find out for sure. [Lily]

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