Sometimes it seems like we can’t make it through a single day without hearing something about drones. Whether it’s a news story about the buzzing little buggers or someone in the neighborhood trying out their new toy, they’re pretty much everywhere. With the tiny, unmanned vehicles becoming such a ubiquitous part of daily life, it’s not very often that we’re surprised by something in the world of drones. This is one of those times, because swarms of lighted drones are surprisingly surprising.
It all started when the CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich wondered what would happen if he asked his “Marketing Director of Perceptual Computing” (Yes, that’s a real job, apparently.), Anil Nanduri, what he’d do with an army of 100 drones at his command. Krzanich, like any good tech nerd, wanted to see something cool and different done with the technology. He must really trust Nanduri, because if I were given control of an army of drones I’d take over the world, or more likely, crash every damned one of them within 2 minutes. But Nanduri is a much more benevolent spirit than I and he realized the perfect group of people to create something unique would be the Ars Electronica Futurelab in Austria.
What the Futurelab team came up with is beautiful and amazing. And world record breaking, setting the Guinness World Record for most UAVs airborne simultaneously. I’m guessing they’re implying it’s for the most drones under the control of a single entity or group since there’s probably thousands in the air at any given moment, especially after this past Christmas.
Here’s the finished product and it is very much worth a watch or three. I’ve probably seen it 8-10 times already.
This was also a great proof-of-concept for a viable option to traditional fireworks. Ostensibly safer than fireworks, drones can be reused, don’t explode (at least not on purpose), and can perform a customized show without any extra or special materials.
Futurelab has a video about the making of the drone performance that’s as fascinating as the final show.