intel drone lightshow

Intel demonstrates coordinated 250-drone lightshow as a fireworks alternative

Fireworks could soon be usurped by fleets of coordinated drones performing lightshows according to Intel, which organised an impressive demonstration as CES this week.

The pre-programmed, light-carrying mini drones, working together in a system called ‘Shooting Star’, use special location technology to stay in formation.

Anil Nanduri, vice president of Intel’s drone group, said the Shooting Star programme represents a new art form and offers a new form of entertainment.

During the CES tech show in Las Vegas, the technology giant deployed 250 of the craft to the famous fountain show outside the Bellagio hotel in the city.

“Why a light show? There are two aspects to it – what the light show is to you is a beautiful formation and creative art in the sky,” he said.

“For me, it’s the technology of controls. Flying a swarm, flying a fleet – that has never been done before and that same technology tomorrow I can apply to search and rescue, for example.”

He said the same programming of the drones, which keeps them close to each other without crashing, could be used to sweep large areas during a search.

The advance in technology also meant there was now an opportunity to evolve firework displays to something more modern.

“Fireworks have been around for centuries. Now fireworks create a lot of pollution – noise,” he said.

“We all enjoy fireworks, but that has been the only way you could enjoy something in the sky other than being in Norway and looking at the Northern Lights.

“What you’re seeing in the Shooting Star system is the ability for you to create that story. You can create shapes, logos or animations and turn it into a story and that is a new form – you can now paint in the sky, but without the pollution. It’s reusable and it’s safe.

“For us, light shows are a way of redefining night-sky entertainment. It’s more than fireworks. Because with fireworks you can’t get shapes or logos. You get a lot of colour and a vibrant mix of sound but here sound can come through music and you will see that in the show.”

Intel is one of many industry giants showcasing new technology at CES, the four-day electronics fair.

The event, which attracts more than 170,000 visitors, was hit with major disruption on Wednesday when a power cut triggered by condensation from heavy rain plunged large parts of the convention centre into darkness.

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