Just days after Intel announced its intention to break its own Guinness world record which it set at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics of over 1,200 drones flown simultaneously, the technology giant has been outdone by Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang.
At a Labour Day performance in the north-western city of Xi’an, the Chinese company set in flight a swarm of 1,374 drones over the city wall, creating a fantastic light show that featured shapes such as an enormous flower pulsing in a myriad of colours, a high speed train, the city’s name and the number 1374.
The drones used for the performance have been named as ‘Egrets’ in various media outlets, and are Ehang’s answer to rival Intel’s Shooting Star drones. Also referred to as “Ghostdrones”, these aerial robots are powered by G200 high-speed motors, and 4,500mAh polymer lithium ion batteries that can support flights that last up to 25 minutes. In optimum environments, proprietary RTK-GPS technology that ensures highly accurate positioning down to a centimetre is intended to prevent collisions between drones that can fly as close as 5cm apart. However the accuracy of the drones is less accurate in inclement weather.
“A formation flight performed by over 1,000 drones can be operated by just one person with one computer. This largely differs from the traditional performance method that requires the involvement of drone pilots, making it possible to flexibly adjust the amount of performing drones and significantly reduce the relevant costs,” the company states on their website.
Speaking with China Daily, CEO of Ehang’s logistics operations Xiong Yifang, said it took over two months’ preparation for the drone light show.
“We wanted to entertain local residents with a novel performance,” said Xiong.
However, even though the performance was indeed stunning, the South China Morning Post amazingly called the event an ‘epic fail‘, as a small number of the brightly lit drones were clearly out of sync.
Ehang received an amount in the vicinity of US$1.6 million to conduct the light show, it was reported. The company is expected to issue a statement regarding the failure of a small number of drones in the next few days.
Regardless of some minor glitches, it still seems an impressive achievement by the Chinese drone manufacturer.
With the total number of drones flown by one pilot at once in this event falls short of the expected 1,500 proposed by Intel at its 50th anniversary celebrations this year, the next question is: will Intel achieve it’s goal and knock Ehang off a briefly held perch?