Intel have just broken their previous record by flying 500 drones at the same time to create an impressive light show. The show is monitored by just two people, so I guess technically that means that one person can fly 250 drones at the same time safely, although since its all software controlled I am sure one person can operate 500. Still its quite an impressive display of drone swarming technology.

Intel Shooting Star Drone

The drone itself is a custom built for light shows, but has been made to be as small and lightweight as possible. Its a very lightweight plastic platform weighing in at just 280g with the main shell made of foam, the frame also features a some prop guards which is sensible given that you will have 500 of these flying near a large crowd of people to avoid any injuries!

At the bottom of each drone is a bright RGBW (red, green, blue and white) LED light that can apparently produce over 4 billion color combinations! So ideal for a light show.

Shooting Star Specifications

  • Type: Quadcopter with encased propellers
  • Size 384 x 384 x 93mm
  • Rotor Diameter 6’’ (~15cm)
  • Max Take Off Weight 280g
  • Flight Time Up to 20 mins
  • Max Range 1.5 km
  • Max Tolerable Wind Speed 10 m/s
  • Max GPS mode Airspeed 10 m/s
  • Max Light Show Airspeed 3 m/s

Intel also uses a custom application that is used to control the drones, it is used to plan the lightshows, but also its used to control the drones themselves. It will also select drones to perform various actions depending on where they are, how much battery is left etc.. to make creating light shows much faster and easier. I am curius to find out what sort of telemetry network they use for these, I suspect it will be a high speed wifi based in order to handle all that data! I also suspect each drone is using the Intel Aero flight controller.

Overall quite exciting to see where drone technology is going and how easy it is becoming, especilay given that RTK GPS units are becoming cheaper for cm accurate positioning! I wonder if these drones are using an RTK GPS system?