For this year’s halftime show at Super Bowl LIII at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Intel collaborated with the NFL yet again to bring drones inside of the Mercedes-Benz stadium for a choreographed light show.
During a performance by Maroon 5, 150 of Intel’s Shooting Star drones took flight spelling out the words “one” and “love.” They were pre-programmed in the flight pattern ahead of the game, the company said. As the band began the song “She Will Be Loved,” Intel’s computer directed 150 drones to float up and over the enclosed field, beating Intel’s previous indoor world record when it used 110 drones for an exhibition at CES in 2018.
Intel disclosed that it used 150 enhanced Intel Shooting Star drones to emulate the experience of floating lanterns for the show. Intel did not reveal exactly how it was able to participate in a glitzy half-time show live during the Super Bowl however.
What mades Sunday’s event different from past ones in that it was done live. For past events, like for Lady Gaga’s half-time show two years ago, the drone footage was pre-recorded and then broadcast during the show.
Super Bowl LIII also was unique in that the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is enclosed, so the drones had to successfully fly a pre-programmed path inside the closed stadium without GPS. According to Intel vice president and general manager of the Intel Drone Group Anil Nanduri, Intel has its own indoor location technology developed in-house which has already been used in many shows like the Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes during their Christmas Spectacular shows.
Nanduri said they conducted plenty of planning and rehearsals before the big event to ensure it was going to happen safely and successfully given that in any live performance, things could go wrong. “We are a technology company,” he told FierceWirelessTech and being able to provide the technology for the artists to use in their performance—it’s a passion, and that keeps us going.”
The company was notified on Jan. 30 that the FCC granted the Special Temporary Authorization (STA) necessary to complete the light show. Intel had filed for a start date of Feb. 3 and end date of Feb. 5.
Along with its Super Bowl collaborations, the company also flew 1,200 of them during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, and collaborated with the U.S. military to fly 500 in California on Independence Day. While on the one hand Intel has been aggressive with its drone-led marketing over the past few years there are news reports of large numbers of folks being let go at Intels main drone manufacturer Ascending Technologies in Germany at the end of 2018. Asctec have been pioneers in the drone space. Not only did they bring their Falcon 8 industrial inspection platform to the party but the shooting stars light show Asctec was unique in having a camera on a multi-rotor that could point up. Very handy for inspection the underside of things likes bridges and bits of oil rigs.