Why Intel’s Super Bowl drone show really was a first

By Robert Scammell

During the Super Bowl Halftime Show last night 150 glowing, synchronised drones floated over the playing field as Maroon 5 performed ‘She Will Be Loved’.

The enhanced Intel Shooting Star drones, resembling dancing Chinese lanterns, formed the words “ONE” and “LOVE” inside the Mercedes-Benz stadium.

It is not the first time Intel has used drones during an NFL half time show.

But what sets this performance apart is that the Super Bowl drone show was carried out live, making it the first of its kind during a Super Bowl Halftime Show.

The leading semiconductor firm’s drones provided a backdrop for Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl Halftime show. But the drones were filmed the week before and broadcast during the show because of Federal Aviation restrictions placed on the stadium.

But this year Intel and the NFL received authorisation to operate under an experimental license issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

At least 100 million people were expected to tune in to watch the New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams during the Super Bowl LIII. It will almost certainly be the most-watched show on US television this year.

No pressure, then.

Super Bowl drone show: Flying without GPS

According to Intel, the drones followed a pre-programmed flight routine. Because the stadium is enclosed, the Intel drones could not rely on GPS.

“Our team constantly looks for opportunities to push the boundaries of innovation and deliver stunning entertainment experiences with our drone technology,” said Anil Nanduri, Intel vice president and general manager of the Intel Drone Group.

“When we received the opportunity to bring our drone light show technology back to the Super Bowl, we were excited by the challenge to execute it live and within a closed stadium environment.

“We collaborated with the show producers, both creatively and technically, to bring a special and unique show experience to the viewers. It was an honour to have performed with Maroon 5 to create a memorable experience for those watching live from their seats in the stadium and for viewers watching at home.”

The Super Bowl drone show broke the world record for the number of drones flown simultaneously indoors, which was previously set by Intel during CES when it flew 110 drones indoors at CES 2018.

Away from the Super Bowl, Intel entertained spectators with 1,200 choreographed drones at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

And during last year’s American Independence Day celebrations Intel swapped fireworks for 500 of its Shooting Star drones.

Drones have become increasingly popular during events, such as autonomous drones flying during a Metallica concert and in a South China lantern festival.

Read more: Drone airport rules: What are the new laws governing drone use?

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