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Intel Flies Over 1,200 Drones at the Winter Olympics to Beat Their Own Guinness Record—Again

BY Zacc Dukowitz
13 February 2018

Intel just beat their own Guinness World Record at the Winter Olympics.

On opening day, Intel played a recording of 1,218 of their Shooting Star light show drones in the air at the same time, beating their previous Guinness World Record for “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously.”

Intel’s Shooting Star drone—also generally referred to as their “light show drone”—was designed and created just for light shows. They come with bright LED lights that can produce more than 4 billion color combinations, and they were designed so you can program them to create different animations, symbols, and images.

The Olympics are a time when the sports and entertainment industries are buzzing with record-setting performances, so it was the perfect stage for Intel Shooting Star drones and our team to set their own kind of record.

– Natalie Cheung, General Manager of Intel’s Drone Light Show Team

While the light show itself is impressive, what stands out to us is how much news there has been during the Winter Olympics kickoff related to drones—we wrote last week on the widely reported Counter-UAS measures put in place by the South Korean government, and now drones are making headlines again for Intel’s lightshow record.

And it looks like this trend will only grow.

According to Intel’s press release on their new world record, “Advanced Intel drone technology will enhance the Olympic Games through 2024.” Sounds like we can expect to see a lot more light shows with drones, and we can only guess that they’ll continue to get bigger and more virtuosic.

Past Contention Regarding Intel’s World Record

Intel has been working on simultaneous drone flights for a while now.

They first won the Guinness Record for “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously” for a flight of 100 drones that took place back in 2015. A year later, they beat their own record with a flight of 500 drones that took place in Germany.

Intel's 500 Drone Light Show | Intel

But then in 2017 Ehang claimed to have beaten Intel’s world record by flying 1,000 of their Ghost Drones at the same time in Guangzhou, China.

The flight took place a week after Lady Gaga performed with Intel’s light show drones at the Superbowl, and at the time we speculated that Ehang might be trying to leverage Intel’s publicity to get some attention for themselves, possibly to increase the buzz around their plans to launch taxi drones in Dubai.

1,000 EHang AAVs set flying formation record in China

However, when we reached out to Guinness to confirm Ehang’s record at the time, they said that no Guinness official had been present for Ehang’s flight, and Intel still retained the world record for their 2016 flight of 500 drones.

Where Are We Headed Next with Light Show Drones?

A point that Anil Nanduri, General Manager of the Drone Group at Intel, made when we interviewed him back in September is that the light show drones are artistic by nature, and that therefore their potential is, in many ways, defined mainly by the creativity of those using them.

Not unlike the athletes competing in the events [at the Olympic Games], we continue to push to innovate and develop the drone technologies that inspire people all over the world.

– Anil Nanduri, VP and General Manager, Intel Drone Group

From this perspective, there are two key aspects to the light shows put on by these drones.

On the logistical side, you have people thinking about how to actually get all these drones flying in formation and working as a single unit. This is about GPS and the language of positioning and speed, and everything that’s required so that the drones are always in sync with one another.

But on the creative side, you have people using animation tools and thinking about what the show should look like to make it spectacular and beautiful.

Coachella Shooting Star Drones Light Show | Intel

Intel is no slouch when it comes to pushing technology forward, and we’re sure to see more technological innovation for the Shoot Star. But what we’re excited to see is where people take things on the creative side.

As Anil told us: You’re going to see the evolution of storytelling with these light shows, with people looking at how they mix art and lighting. You’re going to see many, many different variations.

As the lightshow drones get adopted by more organizations, and their use gets mainstreamed so that more and more artists get to work with them, we’re sure to see some new, spectacular ways to use them. Which is all to say that the future of this part of the drone industry will be limited as much by our imagination as by current technology, and that is pretty darn exciting.

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