Over the past few days, the fallout from the failed Lily drone project has started to gain momentum. We revealed last week that the Lily was back from the dead thanks to the Mota Group, who purchased the rights to the Lily brand at auction.
On the surface, buying the rights to a tarnished brand seems like a strange decision. We tried to explain why it makes good business sense. More interesting, though, is who purchased the technology behind the drone that never made it to customers. That company was Viatek. They outbid GoPro, among others, to grab the patents and technology behind the Lily drone.
Today we got official word from Viatek – a company that makes a range of consumer products – and the first suggestion is that there’s exciting news on the horizon.
The News from Viatek
This is the word from Lou Lentine, president of Viatek. The bold emphasis is ours:
“We are happy to announce that Viatek Consumer Products Group has acquired over twenty patents – both design and utility patents, copyrights, software, tooling and all technical designs and know-how from Lily Robotics. Myself and our engineers have already been to the factory to discuss finalizing the product which everyone preordered from Lily Robotics. We have tested over 70 working units and are pleased to announce the product is functioning very well. I have personally taken a sample to the beach this summer where the drone followed my family surfing, wakeboarding, spearfishing, fishing, jet skiing, and boating. It worked amazingly well following the wrist tracker, landing, and taking off in water. You can’t do that with other drones,”
Now this is interesting. The Lily drone failed because it was unable to fulfill promises to customers or meet the demand for the millions of dollars’ worth of pre-orders. If Viatek is to be believed, a working Lily drone is actually a lot closer than we might have expected. In particular, the ability to take off from water and general waterproof-ness is something no other drone on the market can offer.
Having said that, testing 70 units should not be the foundation for a mass market roll-out. Just ask GoPro about that.
Naming the Nameless Drone
The new drone will be manufactured and marketed exclusively by Viatek. According to a statement from the company, it will be manufactured “with the features everyone wants including, simple to fly with no controller required; ability to land and take off from the water; similar sleek and sturdy design; amazing high-quality photos; great flight time of over 20 minutes; audio recording from wrist tracking device; and some new technology as well.”
Those are some bold promises.
The company is also offering a contest to name the drone. “We are offering a contest for our new drone on our website,” added Christopher Baumunk, executive director of sales & marketing. “We will be giving away a free patented drone to the person who names the product formerly known as Lily by Lily Robotics brand. We have already spoken to major retailers around the globe with much excitement.”
You can submit your name and enter the contest here.
Let’s All Calm Down
Yes, this news of the Lily revival will be exciting for the thousands of people who put money into the initial company and its promising drone, only to be seriously let down. However, as far as we can tell, Viatek has never made a drone before. Even with Lily’s technology in place and a team of skilled engineers, making reliable drones is no easy feat. We’ll wait until we see this thing in the air before jumping to any conclusions.
There’s no doubt that before Lily was wound up, the company was on to something. There’s no other reason that companies would be spending huge amounts of money on the patents and prototypes. But having the technology and crafting it into a workable product that meets (already built-up) consumer expectations are two separate things.
Angelo Ramsbott, VP of international sales at Viatek said “We know the technology was sought out by many in the industry, and we are glad that LR Holding, our associated holding company, has been able to acquire these assets. The success of Lily was not about the name, it was about the technology and that is what we own.”
We’ll see about that.