Intel have lit up the skies in a world-record breaking light show to celebrate the 50th year anniversary since the technology corporation was first created in 1968.
To honor this momentous date, the Intel Light Show team prepared a series of animated drone formations above the audience at its Folsom, California, facility.
Breaking the previous record it set earlier this year at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the team flew a total of 2,018 Intel® Shooting Star™ drones to form shapes of the earth, human outlines and the ubiquitous Intel computer chip, to name a few.
“Several years ago, we had an idea of flying drones forming the Intel logo over our corporate headquarters, and here we are doing just that. It really speaks to the innovative spirit that Intel was founded on 50 years ago.” –Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager, Intel Drone Group
Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in simultaneous multiple drone formation flights, the 50th anniversary light show also broke the record that Ehang set in May of this year when it broke Intel’s previous record by flying 1,374 drones.
But now, Intel has taken back the world record with last night’s flight.
Speaking with CNBC, Drone Light Show Manager Natalie Cheung explains more about how they got over 2,000 drones to fly together in the night sky.
“Watching a drone light show for the first time is a bit surreal,” she says.
“You don’t know what’s really behind all these lights that are moving in the sky, it’s something that’s a little magical and it’s something that I believe is a new form of night time entertainment for the industry.”
How Intel first got into drones was after a chat in the company’s headquarter hallway.
“Intel got into drones in a very serendipitous way,” continues Cheung. “We were just talking in the hallway about how cool it would be to have 100 drones form the Intel logo above our headquarters.”
“We knew that was something that was technically challenging so we said well how do we engineer a solution to this.”
The team created a purpose-built drone for the task – the Intel® Shooting Star™ – and after flying a test flight in Germany three years ago, the team knew they were onto something big.
“There’s no cameras, it does two things really well. It has a light that can create over 4 billion colour combinations in the sky, and it flies really precisely in the sky so you can just paint any animation you want in the night sky,” she explains.
Managing over 2,000 drones from the Intel drone control centre, the team is able to monitor the status of each and every drone.
“If you select a specific drone you can actually see the battery life, the GPS, the temperature, and so forth, so that’s how we know that the drone is healthy and stable to fly.”
The drones are able to warn any unexpected oncoming aircraft, also.
“We actually have a setting on the drone where we can actually change it as quickly as we want and this is really important when we do shows because if we want to send out a flash of light for any external aircraft we can shine the whole fleet bright red,” Cheung continues.
While Intel makes flying this many drones look like an easy task, it takes a lot of specialised programming, Cheung elaborates. “We have a lot of special IP and special algorithms that allow us to fly and control all of these drone with just one pilot. Everything is pre-programmed so we know exactly where these drones are going to fly and we test it through our simulator before we are going to fly.”
“We believe that we are really pushing the forefront of technology and we can change how the industry as well as aviation and regulators look at how to fly drones because of the technology that we have,” she concludes.
Intel’s next move in their 50th year celebrations will be to fly 500 drones over its corporate headquarters in Santa Clara, California to honor its employees and their families on this week, weather permitting.