In Brief
  • Intel lit up the Super Bowl halftime show with 300 drones that moved behind Lady Gaga as she sang on the stadium's roof.
  • In the future, Intel hopes that this fleet drone technology will find other applications beyond that of entertainment.

Shooting Stars

If you haven’t noticed, the Super Bowl LI is trending on social media – the Patriots won in overtime and Lady Gaga impressed during halftime. But the pop superstar wasn’t the only one that lit up the night – Intel literally did so with 300 drones that moved behind Lady Gaga as she sang on the stadium’s roof.

“The Intel Shooting Star drone is the company’s first drone created for entertainment light shows,” says Anil Nanduri, VP for Intel’s New Technology Group. “We’ve also worked with the FAA to receive a Part 107 Waiver to fly these drones as a fleet with one pilot at night in the U.S.”

These Shooting Star drones are actually quite simple. They use a desktop software suite of programs, allowing them to follow a pre-programmed route. The software also keeps the drones form colliding with one another, as they don’t have hardware to detect collisions, nor do they communicate directly with each other.

Superbowl LI

More Than Entertainment

Each of Intel’s drones can be assembled in less than 15 minutes. There are no screws and everything snaps together. They have a large, multicolored LED light on the bottom, are encased in a styrofoam housing, and weigh about the same as a volleyball. Currently, Intel uses these drones to conduct fantastic, well-coordinated light shows in the night sky. Intel says these are near-limitless in its scale – they re able to control more than 10,000 drones at a time.

In the future, Intel hopes that this fleet drone technology will find other applications beyond that of entertainment. As Josh Walden, senior VP and GM at the New Technology Group said: “The potential for these light show drones is endless, and we hope this experience inspires other creatives, artists and innovators to really think about how they can incorporate drone technology in new ways that have yet to even be thought of.”

These drones, combined with Intel’s other proprietary technologies, could even be used in search and rescue operations, or for industrial inspection. “Intel’s leaders are positioning the company to provide the compute, sensor, communications, and cloud integration for the growing drone ecosystem,” the company notes.