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Intel’s Winter Olympics light show featured 1,218 drones
February 24, 2018, 12:50 pm

Opening ceremonies of Olympic Games are always a big show, and this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea was no exception. Intel added its bit to the show with a record-setting performance of 1,218 Shooting Star drones flying in sync to create huge light-up images of Olympic sports and the iconic Olympic rings in the skies over Pyeongchang County, the venue for the Games.

The record-breaking 1,218-drone flight was not live at the opening ceremony — it was pre-recorded in advance — although a smaller group of 300 drones did make a live appearance at the ceremony. Intel will also show a 300-drone live performance each night at the medal ceremony, so attendees will have plenty of chances to see the drones in person at the games.

While the record-breaking scale of the Olympics show is certainly impressive, from a software perspective, it is more or less the same logistics as running smaller, 300-drone shows. The added numbers just increase the resolution and quality of the image. Everything is managed from a central computer system, which coordinates the drones on the fly based on things like individual battery life and GPS signal. Intel did have to make some minor tweaks to the designs of the drones’ rotor cages to compensate for the colder and windier conditions in Pyeongchang. The company even ran tests in the equally chilly Finland to make sure that the aerial fleet could hold up.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the 1,218-drone flight set a record for “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously,” more than doubling Intel’s previous high water mark of 500 drones flying together in a performance in Germany in 2016.


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