Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lily isn’t just a quadcopter, it’s an autonomous personal cameraman in the sky

Looking at the new Lily Camera, you’ll spot an immediate resemblance to various consumer quadcopter drones that are already available. But its creator, Antoine Balaresque, purposely avoids calling it a quadcopter or a drone, because those terms, he says, are used to describe something that requires an operator to control and meant to be dispatched far away. Lily, however, is the world’s first autonomous, smart “flying camera” that doesn’t rely on any human intervention, as it uses computer vision technology and GPS to track its user.

“We designed it as a camera, and never thought of it as a drone or quadcopter,” Balaresque says. “Think of it as your own personal cameraman.”

And it’s that idea of a “personal cameraman” that initiated the creation for this robot. After reviewing photos from a vacation he took with his family, Balaresque noticed that his mother was missing from many of them, as she was behind the camera. What if he could create a flying camera that would hover around them, capturing photos and videos at the same time?
It sounds like science fiction, but that’s what he and cofounder Henry Bradlow did. Using their computer science background from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as their experience in the U.C. Berkley Robotics Laboratory and participation in “hackathon” events, the two created Lily, a five-man robotics company based in Menlo Park, California. The Lily Camera, a project that started two years ago, will be its first flagship product.
 

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