It turns out the two are directly linked, with Intel and Disney partnering for an all-new nightly drone display that takes to the skies for the first time tonight.
Called Starbright Holidays, the show will feature hundreds of LED-laden flying machines “painting colorful images across the sky” in what the two companies claim is a U.S. first for drone performances on this scale.
The Disney display marks the public debut of Intel’s Shooting Star drone, which the company is touting as a “new type of unmanned aerial vehicle” designed for entertainment displays at festivals and other shows. A total of 300 drones will perform choreographed aerial displays set to a fully orchestrated score of seasonal classics.
In its collaboration with Disney, Intel’s Josh Walden said the pair were aiming for a “fresh and innovative approach to [Disney’s] world-renowned light shows,” adding, “Together, we worked to tackle the new frontier of animation, picturing the sky as our canvas and flying lights as ink.”
Intel’s ambitious move into drone entertainment demonstrates its determination to make a success of a fast-emerging tech sector, keen as it is to avoid the same missteps it made in the smartphone space when it failed to gain a foothold early on.
As for Disney, it’s been looking for some time at incorporating drones into its range of offerings for visitors to its sites, and evidently has a few other interesting ideas up its sleeve regarding the remotely controlled flying machines.
Intel’s Shooting Star drone is composed of a super-light Styrofoam body and plastics and weighs in at just 0.62 pounds (280 grams), making it considerably lighter than even DJI’s diminutive Mavic Pro quadcopter, which tips the scales at 1.62 pounds (734 grams). Each one is equipped with LED lights that can change color, while its propellors feature safety cages should any of the machines turn rogue and head for the crowd.
“With the improved software and interface, a light show can now be done in a matter of days, instead of weeks or months,” Intel said, adding that all 300 drones in the Disney show will be controlled by a single computer.
There’s no word yet on whether Intel has plans to put it on general sale or if it’s targeting it solely at entertainment companies interested in putting on commercial light shows.
The Starbright Holidays show is scheduled to run nightly from November 20 through January 8. Preview shows begin on November 16.