The Intel Corporation in collaboration with Ars Electronica Futurelab presented footage that reveals a secret talent of drone: aerial dance routines. With 100 small unmanned aerial vehicles, a ground crew used Intel software to perform a choreographed ballet in the sky while an orchestra seated on the runway of a German airport and played Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The drones moved and their lights changed creating a spectacle halway between laser light show and robot fireworks. In addition to setting the Guinness World Record for Most UAVs Airborne Simultaneously (and beating the previous record by 50), the team also put on a light show of cool shapes and colors that moved in sync with the live music. Intel says that the dance routine was created in part to remind people that drones aren’t just for things like warfare.
The team of 16 people called the drones “spaxels” - a hybrid of “space pixels.” They said that they wanted to show how drones, known to many as weapons, can be used to create beauty and socially meaningful experiences. They programmed a complex dance routine with custom software, then assigned squads of 25 drones apiece to four drone pilots and put them to work on an airplane runway in Hamburg. But before the drones could launch from the field, engineers created software that allowed the drones to follow flight paths, turn on and off lights and move succinctly with one another to dramatic orchestra music.
It wasn't the spaxels’ first performance — they stunned at a number of international shows over the past few years, including an outing at the glitzy Eurovision competition. But this performance was their most spectacular to date.
Last year the FAA estimated at least 1 million drones would be sold in the holiday season along. It’s hard to imagine that there have never been at least 100 in the sky at the same time before this.