Breaking Through Regulations

For the first time on U.S. soil, 100 drones flew up all at the same time, synchronized to create a light orchestra in the sky. And the work required special approval.

According to Intel, “FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) drone regulations limit individuals and businesses from flying multiple drones simultaneously without special exemption. Since unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can pose risks to the busy and complex U.S. airspace, the FAA has taken incremental steps to address any hazards from the proliferation of drones.”

After working with the FAA by conducting several tests and providing walkthroughs of the technology used for Drone 100, Intel became the only company to ever receive a Section 333 Exemption for multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) per pilot, allowing them to launch 100 drones in Palm Springs, California.

1000 Drones Next

The event, dubbed Drone 100, was held earlier this year at the Ahrenlohe Airfield in Germany, which broke the previous Guinness World Record of 50 unmanned vehicles in the air at a time. In collaboration with Ars Electronica Futurelab, Intel came up with a program that allowed the synchronized movements and light from the drones.

“We worked with the FAA, walked them through what our technology can do, step by step,” Natalie Cheung, drone product manager at Intel, says. Only four laptops were needed to control all 100 drones. And Cheung says demonstrating the full process including safeguards in automation and control played a huge role in gaining the exemption from the FAA.

Josh Walden, Senior VP and General Manager of the New Technology Group at Intel, says they intend to introduce Drone 100 for performing in stadiums and events where big populations turn up. He also says their vision is to stretch technology limits, as well as FAA regulations, to one day go from simultaneously controlling a hundred drones to a thousand over time.

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