Drone light show: the new method for demonstrating swarming capabilities

Hamed

Monday, June 25, 2018

Over the past decades, great attention has been placed by drone’s companies on flying a large number of units into swarms. The latter form an organized cluster of vehicles and coordinate to achieve a common goal. Indeed, many applications require the coordination between several drones. For instance, a visual inspection using swarming drones would be much and more quickly compared the use of an individual drone.

The formation of the swarming drones can be operated by just one person with one control station. This differs from the traditional methods where each vehicle needs to be controlled by one person. In addition, a good swarming operation would require efficient localization and synchronization between the drones. Any failure could be translated into catastrophic consequences on the flying vehicles, on the target mission, or even on the environment. Swarming becomes more complex with a huge number of vehicles.

In this vein, swarm drones have become a race between big manufacturers and companies. It demonstrates the progress achieved by the firms at both hardware and software levels. Drone light show is often considered as the method to demonstrate swarming capabilities. In the 2018 Winter Olympic game held in South Korea, Intel made a light show using swarming drones. With over 1200 drones, Intel broke the world record for the most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously. Different shapes were formed by the drones and illuminate the sky, such as a snowboarder, a flying bird, and the five rings of the Olympic rings. With a sophisticated software tool designed by Intel, the drones can be programed to reproduce animated shapes with different colors.

Watch the video.

Recently, a Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang has outdone Intel’s record. 1374 was the number of flying drones employed to celebrate the Labour day. This fleet of 1374 drones represents the length of the 13.74 km City Wall of Xi’an, the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. The show lasted for about 13 minutes over an area of 1200 m long, 100 m wide and 260 m high above the city. The drones formed different shapes including a flower, the city name, and the number 1374. However, Ehang’s show was criticized to have some faults. A small number of drones were not well synchronized with the rest of the team.

Watch the video.

Drone light show has become a real race. Intel plans again to break the drone show record with over 1500 units. The event should take place as part of the company’s 50th anniversary event.

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