Lily, the camera that follows you around

A black Lily drone and tracking device.

24 February 2016


Throughout February, we have been amazed by the number and variety of Raspberry Pi projects out there. From an autonomous tomato cultivating device through to a doorbell that delivers its message directly to your smartphone, we have seen a wealth of #EverydayEngineers tackling the problems that life throws their way with innovative, techy solutions. But for some, hacking their Pi was just the beginning.

Back in 2013, deep in the basement of the robotics lab at the University of California, Berkeley, graduates Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow experimented with the idea of an ‘autonomous videographer’, remotely capturing high-quality footage of the user in any environment. Building their prototype from a hacked Raspberry Pi, matched with an Arduino microcontroller and drone chassis, their efforts gave way two years later to the Lily Camera; a flying, floating, video camera complete with a sealed, waterproof body, quadrotors, and of course, a smiling face.

The body of the device, made of polycarbonate and trimmed with brushed aluminium, measures a little over ten inches square, with a three-inch tall rotor stack at each corner. Weighing just 1.3kg, and responding to a tracking device or ‘puck’ carried by the user, Lily can hover up to 15m vertically, and around 30m horizontally from the user, travelling at a maximum speed of 25mph.

Designed with simplicity in mind, the camera requires no controlling. The user simply throws Lily into the air causing the rotors to fire up, and the camera automatically locks onto the tracking ‘puck’ carried by the user. Lily’s default setting is to trail the user from five feet above; however, a simple dial on the puck allows easy transition between static, spiralling and following shots, as well as full, high definition slow-motion shooting.

From its humble beginnings as a robotics project between friends, the Lily camera has set its sights high. Currently in the pre-production stage, first orders are thought to be filled by the summer of 2016, with the unit due to be opened to general sale later this year. If you have any Raspberry Pi projects that have taken off like Lily’s prototype did, tweet us a picture and don’t forget to tag it with #EverydayEngineers!

Related Articles