On the back of a highly successful promotional video in 2015, Lily Robotics Inc. was a tech company on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
The video highlighted some truly exciting UAV technology from the company, with the Lily Drone seemingly capable of a host of incredible features, including the ability to follow people, operate underwater, and make a precise landing onto the user’s hands.
This resulted in close 62,000 pre-orders for the Lily Drone, totalling an impressive $34 million for the company.
Sadly, not a single unit of the Lily Drone was ever developed, and it turns out the company may have been more than a little misleading around their product and intentions with their newly acquired revenue.
In fact, many customers are claiming to have been duped by the marketing video, which was allegedly created using an entirely different and more expensive drone.
On February 27, 2017, less than two years after the promo video was first released, Lily Robotics Inc. filed for bankruptcy, having never manufactured a single unit.
The voluntary petition for relief was filed under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, which is pending before Kevin J. Carey.
With Lily officially winding down, customers that invested hundreds of dollars pre-ordering the drone will receive a full refund. However, refunds will only be administered pending Bankruptcy Court approval.
As if bankruptcy wasn’t bad enough for the company, Lily Robotics is also facing a lawsuit, including charges of false advertising and misleading business practices, filed by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.
Various misleading practices are being cited in the lawsuit, including:
- Not providing refunds for customers after the initial shipping date was postponed by close to a year.
- Using funds gained from customer pre-orders as collateral for bank loans, despite telling consumers that any funds gained will not be used to help run the company.
- Creating a promotional video for potential customers that claims to use ‘Lily Shots’, that was in fact created using companies’ hardware (i.e. GoPro and DJI products).
A notice posted on Prime Clerk by Lily Robotics provides more information for any customer seeking refunds.
It’s a sad end to what was once a promising drone manufacturer. The technology that Lily claimed to use was certainly innovative back in 2015, but in the time passed since then, other competitors’ technology has certainly caught up with the concepts on show.
If anything, the Lily Drone debacle serves as a reminder that in 2017, there is little need to invest in any type of pre-order or crowdfunded drone projects. With so many reliable products already available to purchase, hopefully consumers will be able to avoid these kinds of incidents!