On Lily

(Thankfully) before the Rand went really bad, I ordered a Lily. Not the flower of death, but the super cool drone which follows you around like a beagle expecting a snack. The waiting time before shipping was 9 months, presumably because they needed orders to make money to make drones. But they promised that they would keep in touch during the process and, I have to say, they have. I get an update about every two or three weeks on average. Sometimes they introduce new members of staff, sometimes they tell me about some robotics conference they have been to, and sometimes the updates are rather more technical.

Here’s a sample from the one that arrived last night, all about a pre-production take off, landing and camera test.

As you can see in this footage, there are three image quality issues: fisheye distortion, wobble, and stabilization. The team is on it, addressing each issue as follows:

  • The current dampening and wiring cause internal vibrations, resulting in wobble. We are adjusting the durometer of the vibration dampening system and re-assembling the wires to ensure this wobble is removed.

  • The unbalanced fisheye distortion is caused by a mistuning of the external polycarbonate lens. We have already re-tuned the external lens and this issue will not appear on the production version.

  • Our electronic stabilization software (EIS) was not used in this video. We will be porting this piece to the unit in the coming days and expect much better performance. More on that soon. That’s all for now!

So glad that they are adjusting the durometer of the vibration dampening system. Heaven only knows why the durometer of the vibration dampening system was unadjusted in the first place. Rookie error, guys. Even I know to adjust the durometer of the vibration dampening system before I do pre-production tests. (I would also probably have mistuned the external polycarbonate lens though. That’s always a tough one to remember.)

The Lily people say that they are still on schedule to ship in February, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a couple of delays. We’ll see. The thing is, the communication process has been so open and transparent, that I think I would be rather understanding if things were to run a bit late. And there’s a lesson for a lot of companies in there.