HENRY BRADLOW HOLDS an RC controller and a horribly cracked Moto X, but he’s only gripping these devices in case something goes wrong with his demo. When Bradlow, the CTO and co-founder of Lily Robotics, gives the go sign, Nghia Ho, the company’s computer vision engineer, flings a drone straight up into the air. It rises, and then immediately begins to fall. For a split second, it appears as though this 3D-printed prototype with a camera attached is about to shatter into a thousand pieces. But just as the drone starts to descend, Lily’s four rotors flick on. The machine steadies itself in mid-air, then rises about twenty feet and hangs there, awaiting instructions.
Bradlow never once touched the controller, or his phone. That’s the whole point of Lily, the first product from Lily Robotics, a five-person company co-founded by a couple of recent Berkeley grads with funding from Silicon Valley heavy-hitters like Ron Conway. Lily is a self-flying drone that is always following you, following a certain set of commands.
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