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Drone Maker Lily Robotics Faked Promotional Video, Gets Sued For False Advertising and Misleading Business Practices (theregister.co.uk) 39

Dotnaught quotes a report from The Register: Lily Robotics says its decision on Thursday to shut down and return pre-order payments for a never-delivered drone, which came on the same day that San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon charged the company with false advertising and misleading business practices, was purely coincidental. According to a source familiar with the complaint filed against the company, Lily Robotics has known about the DA's investigation for several months. On the strength of a promotional video on YouTube in May 2015, embedded below, Lily Robotics raised more than $34 million in pre-order sales over the course of that year for a drone called Lily Camera. The flying gadget, when built, would be capable of being launched with a throw, following people, and recording them. But after pushing the delivery date back multiple times, Lily Robotics has yet to ship a single drone to its 60,000 prospective customers, according to the lawsuit filed against the company. In theory, Lily Robotics could face a fine of more than a hundred million dollars, depending upon the outcome of a trial, if it comes to that. The company faces potential fines for at least two business code violations subject to a civil penalty of $2,500 per violation, and there are some 60,000 individuals affected. In practice, however, such fines are usually orders of magnitude less, particularly if both sides agree on a settlement. The complaint against Lily, obtained by The Register, alleges that the company knowingly misled customers by creating a promotional video that purported to show video footage captured with a Lily drone prototype. "In fact, none of the video in the Promotional Video was shot by a Lily Camera," the complaint says. "Most notably, the POV footage used in the promotional video was filmed using a professional camera drone called the DJI Inspire." Among the Lily Camera prototypes present at the video shoot, the complaint says, the ones that could actually record video were able to do so because they had Go-Pro cameras mounted on them.
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Drone Maker Lily Robotics Faked Promotional Video, Gets Sued For False Advertising and Misleading Business Practices

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  • No lie here (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2017 @07:11PM (#53664361)

    Lily Robotics said I can keep my doctor and the price would go down!

  • I wonder if they'd be interested in the design. It doesn't look nearly as nice as theirs, and is larger, but it does the job that theirs is supposed to do. How do I get in touch with them?
    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      Just ask investors to forward to returned money to you!

    • I wonder if they'd be interested in the design. It doesn't look nearly as nice as theirs, and is larger, but it does the job that theirs is supposed to do. How do I get in touch with them?

      Too late, they're already taking names for refunds. But if you have an actually-working device, you might consider putting together a business plan and doing a Kickstarter to get manufacturing capital. That's the only kind of Kickstarter I [for one] would even consider backing any more.

      • I did an indiegogo campaign about a solid state laser cutter (not engraver, cutter). It hit 312%. I delivered in about 90 days. About 2% of my customers were unhappy and wanted a refund. All in all, not too bad I think.
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @08:09PM (#53664627)
    It's part and parcel of the tech industry.
    • There is a big difference between a fake demo to generate buzz, and a fake demo used to actually collect money from people. The first is lying. The second is stealing.

      • Business deals have been done based on trade show demonstrations.
        • Business deals have been done based on trade show demonstrations.

          That falls under the category of "actually collecting money from people".

  • Lily Robotics is returning the money they took - which is an interesting supposition because I assume they've used some of the cash they were given for personal and business expenses...

    That means that I suspect that they don't have the entirety of the $34 million to give back.
    That also means that I think a $60m lawsuit is a WASTE OF TIME against a company that has neither cash nor assets to make a claim against.

  • The company would get a millions of dollar fine? Bad news for the ones that expected a partial refund: there will not be any money left.
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      The fine is to ensure that the business owners get $0 after refunds are processed.
      • No need to fine here, since they never made any benefit: all they have is a part of the money they are supposed to refund
  • In Soviet Canuckistan, we have these folks called police who lay criminal charges for things like fraud...
  • I think that this is the crew I've seen out at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, testing away. The drones seemed to by flying fine, but they were following dudes who were pretty much standing around in a field, not skiing or kayaking.

    Weird, I kinda woulda figured that UCB robotics folks would be able to get this going, especially since the DJIs seem to be able to come pretty close to this already.

  • In my opinion it is close to impossible to develop a good drone in San Francisco (or in the USA for that matter). There are so man useless regulations. It is practically impossible to fly.

    The market leader, DJI, produces its vehicles in China.

    Nearly 70,000 birds killed only in New York in attempt to clear safer path for planes https://www.theguardian.com/wo... [theguardian.com] , and birds fly all the time, not only couple of times on weekend. Birds also have no understanding comparable to a human pilot.

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