Saturday, February 11, 2017

Innovating Fireworks With Drones Show

Move over fireworks, make way for the buzzing drones.

Intel developed the idea of using drones, something commonly associated with weapons, warfare and aerial photography for hobbyists, into something used for art and beauty.This project called Intel Drone 100, was a choreographed Drone Light Show whereby 100 drones were launched into the air into a pre-programmed position with coordinated lighting to display different patterns and colours.

Intel logo made by drones

It's only one part of the future of this technology, however, with Intel highlighting potential uses for drones ranging from bushfire management to delivery of medical supplies to infrastructure repair.

On October 2016, Intel flew a synchronized fleet of 500 Shooting Star drones in Germany, which won a Guinness World Record title for the Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously.

Drone 3D show

November 2016 marked the first time in the U.S. that Intel Shooting Star 300 drones simultaneously perform a synchronized light show in Disneyland. Many believed that this was a trial runs. The flying robots paint the sky with colorful images choreographed to traditional holiday music.

Drones flying formation. 

In February 2017, Intel Shooting Star 300 drones were the backup dancers for Lady Gaga during the Super Bowl half-time show, choreographed a waving American flag, turning into Pepsi’s logo. The drones were built solely with this type of extravaganza in mind.

Building Drones dancers

They're built, according to Intel, "with a soft frame made of flexible plastics and foam and contain no screws.". What they lack in screws, Shooting Stars make up for in LED lights, which are built in and " can create over 4 billion color combinations in the sky." All 300 drones are controlled through a single central computer and operator. This lightness and flexibility comes with trade-offs: a Shooting Star can only withstand wind speeds of 10 m/s, which would cause a small tree to sway.

Intel Powered Drone

Risk of Dancing Drones

Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates drones, only allow them to fly up to 700 feet and in more restrictive airspace, such as above a lake or empty field. I think the FAA is worried that the drones may get haywire and just crashed to the ground. As if the explosive fireworks is of any safer.


No doubt, fireworks display is impressive and with a bang. It does have its disadvantages, dangerous and costly. Whereas drone are reusable and re-programmable. The innovation part here is the limitless possibility of displays and patterns. Maybe someone will add sound effect in the near future.

This technology will lead to other innovation spin-off, such as a floating billboard, in 3D. Or used a warning display in an emergency. Or a 3D floating beacon. Or swarming drones conducting simultaneous aerial scanning, sensing or low-altitude mapping.

And if China catch this idea, they'll probably use the swarm drones to blow away the polluted smog that engulf their populated cities.

Future of Drone Show

Intel envisions a future where drones fly in fleets to accomplish tasks. The same software that Intel and Disney are using to put on a colorful aerial show could be used in search and rescue operations or inspecting equipment and goods. Imagine a squadron of several drones using scanning software — like Intel’s RealSense platform — to inspect an airplane, water tower or farm land. Or a swarm of these drones creating a floating LED screen. But right now the drones are simply flying backup dancers or aerial ballet if you want to call it.

Intel's 500 Drone Light Show
Shooting Star Drones video

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