Super Bowl had some astonishing highlights, but interestingly enough the best part wasn’t the game or the ads! Instead, it was Lady Gaga’s sizzling performance where 500 drones danced to her characteristically bold and modulated tunes during the Super Bowl halftime. The “Shooting Stars” were also a part of the holiday show at Disney World, but this was without a doubt the most high-profile performance on the night to remember for multiple reasons (at least for the Patriots).
Hundreds of these Shooting Star drones flashed and danced in unison while being controlled by one computer. The swarm is a part of the world’s latest obsession of taking drones from individuals to fleets, as we saw a US Fighter Jets dropping 100 surveillance drones to test swarm behavior only a few weeks ago. Intel says that the sky is the limit for this technology’s scale since it can control more than 10,000 drones simultaneously.
Intel’s Shooting Star program is controlled via software suite of programs, with the drones’ routes pre-programmed to follow their trajectories. The drones don’t have any hardware to communicate or detect collisions. Instead, it’s all in the “hands” of the software to ingeniously determine routes that avoid collisions between hundreds of these astounding machines.
Each one has a simple design and weighs close to volleyball. Each drone is covered with a styrofoam housing and simple metal cages around the four props. The screw-less designs are simple enough to be assembled in less than 15 minutes. Each drone has a large, multicolored LED light at the bottom, which turns the amazing drones into a swarm of fireflies!
Intel has been working on the project for the past two years. In 2015, the technology giant partnered with a handful of artists and technology researchers at Ars Electronica Futurelab in Linz, Austria to send 100 drones into the air, which were controlled by four pilots and were launched from four different airfields. Then in late 2016, before the first show at Disney World, Intel flaunted a new generation of the platform which launched 500 drones at once.
Intel hopes to bring about a future where drones can fly in fleets to accomplish difficult tasks. Besides lighting up Lady Gaga’s performance, the drones can also be used in search and rescue operations or for inspection of equipment and goods.
Watch the drones in full flight below!