Fireworks also make local air pollution spike, and can pollute water and soil when chemicals and heavy metals shower down from the pyrotechnics.
But everyone likes a show. So Intel is attempting to pioneer an alternative that’s just as mesmerizing to watch: hundreds of drones, choreographed into a spectacular light display.
The company first tested the idea in 2015, in an experiment with 100 manually programmed drones. Now they’ve unveiled a new drone, called the Shooting Star, designed for light shows. An algorithm automatically programs the drones to fly in formation, and a single pilot can run the display.
“You can design whatever animations your mind can dream up,” says Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager of Intel’s UAV segment. “It’s like a display in the sky where you have much finer control of the animations. You can have anything from text messages to shapes and transformations.”
The drones weigh less than a softball and are made from flexible plastic to make them safer (plus the propellers are covered with a cage). Because nothing’s being blown up, it’s safer than a fireworks show—a large part of the expense of fireworks for cities comes from insurance. And the drones can be reused again and again.
A drone show would also be quieter than pyrotechnics (though if you’ve ever heard the whine of a drone, a fleet of 500 wouldn’t be silent; loud music might cover the mosquito-like sound, however).
Intel hopes to bring the drones to a public event soon. Despite the nostalgia of a traditional show, the company thinks crowds could embrace the new spectacle. (Source)