Lonely Planet Writer

Travel selfies reach new heights with personal drones

Some travelers have begun to use drones, or tiny personal airships, to send cameras into the air to film photos and videos of themselves as they tour a destination, hike a trail, or pose as a group in front of a landmark.

The new selfie drone.
The new selfie drone. Image by Lily

It is already commonplace for drones to be mounted with cameras. But positioning the drone and remotely operating its camera can prove to be distracting challenges.

A new personal drone called Lily aims to simplify the process by piloting itself, with the help of a tracking device attached to a traveler’s wrist. It is supposed to remain within a close distance of usually 30 feet and never more than 100 feet at all times.

Tracking device for the new selfie drone.
Tracking device for the new selfie drone. Image by Lily

The drone uses sensors to keep its camera lens focused on its owner as he or she moves. An image from the camera is streamed to the user’s smartphone so that he or she can adjust the image as needed. After serving as a traveler’s mid-air paparazzo for up to 20 minutes, the drone then flies back to its owner, boomerang-style.

The high-resolution video and the 12-megabyte still images can be uploaded to a user’s computer or social media account. The device needs about two hours to recharge. If the device accidentally flies out of range, it is supposed to hover and eventually land on its own. Lily isn’t shipping until February 2016, but the company is taking orders internationally in advance, with a recent price of $499.