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Amazing aerial drone display uses smoke machines and laser projection

Aerial Image Projection using Drone Swarms

It’s a cynical, world-weary time we live in when midair drone displays, in which large numbers of illuminated drones take to the sky like flying pixels to create elaborate patterns, seem like yesterday’s news. But that’s the harsh reality of novelty — and it’s one that Hungarian drone display company CollMot Entertainment isn’t going to try and fight.

Instead, the innovative high-tech entertainment company has found a new way to use drones for aerial displays, by combining them with smoke machines and a laser projection system to pioneer a new type of eye-catching flying display. The approach, created in collaboration with German companies phase7 and LaserAnimation Sollinger, uses smoke-generating drones to create a makeshift canvas in the sky that a laser projector can then project images onto. While CollMot doesn’t view its approach as being a replacement for large-scale aerial drone displays, it does represent a pretty jaw-dropping alternative. Specifically, it’s one that can help address some of the challenges of “traditional” drone shows.

“The spectacle a drone show can create with dot-like light sources does not scale that well with the number of drones,” Dr. Gábor Vásárhelyi, CEO of CollMot Entertainment, told Digital Trends. “Dots remain dots, and even thousands of them are very limited compared to even the oldest [computer] displays. Animations created with thousands of drones are also pretty slow, as the velocity of individual dots is limited, while required angular velocities in large formations get very large at the edges. Instead, we have always focused on innovations that could scale up the ‘wow’ effect of drone shows and take the audience by surprise.”

While the visual impact of the drone display is pretty dazzling, equally impressive is the fact that it’s actually less technically involved than some of the other drone displays we’ve seen. Rather than requiring an enormous number of drones, like the record-breaking displays from companies like Intel and Ehang, the effect can be achieved with a smaller number of unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Developing this novel and complex technology took a long time, although it was very rewarding,” Vásárhelyi Said. “After several successful tests, we had the chance to showcase a holographic-like laser image in live action at the celebrations on the National Day of Hungary in Budapest in 2019 for a cheering audience of more than half a million.”

Coming soon to a sky near you. At least, you can hope that it is!

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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