Skip to main content

China nabs world record for biggest drone display, but it’s a bit of a mess

EHang Egret’s 1374 drones dancing over the City Wall of Xi’an, achieving the Guinness World Records”

Drones are flying their way into lots of industries, transforming the way businesses conduct their operations and helping companies work more efficiently.

Already well established in the movie business, the remotely controlled flying machines are also being used in agriculture, maintenance, and police work. Delivery services are a target, too, with Amazon and others keen to use the technology to launch full-fledged operations as soon as regulators allow.

But how about drones for entertainment, as in “drone shows” for audiences? It’s already happening, with Intel having partnered with Disney to produce night-time aerial displays in Florida using hundreds of drones sparkling with LED lights.

Another company, Ehang — better known for its larger “flying taxi” than its smaller Ghostdrone quadcopter — is also getting into the game, and this week nabbed the world record from Intel for the most drones flying in a single display.

But according to a report from the South China Morning Post, some of the drones refused to play ball.

China-based Ehang deployed its fleet of 1,374 Ghostdrones at a Labour Day show in the city of Xi’an, about 500 miles south-west of Beijing. Besides entertaining hordes of spectators, the aim was also to beat Intel’s record when it flew 1,218 drones at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in February.

Ehang’s display lasted 13 minutes and spread across a distance of more than 0.6 miles (1 km). It looks spectacular in the company’s just-released video (above), but the Post pointed out that some of the maneuvers appeared to fail.

It seems the computer-driven control hub back on the ground suffered a glitch, resulting in about half the drones failing to fly into position, messing up the creation of various Chinese characters. Footage from another video (below) appears to show at least one of the quadcopters tumbling to the ground during the display.

西安千架无人机编队飞行表演出岔 部分图案出现乱码-新京报·我们视频

Despite the mishaps, Guinness World Records was still happy to award the record to Ehang for its efforts, while the company is said to be preparing a statement to explain what caused the drones to fly out of sync.

Ehang had been building up to its record attempt. In March last year, the company launched 1,000 of its drones in Guangzhou as part of Chinese Lantern Festival celebrations.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Don’t buy the Meta Quest Pro for gaming. It’s a metaverse headset first
Meta Quest Pro enables 3D modeling in mixed reality.

Last week’s Meta Connect started off promising on the gaming front. Viewers got release dates for Iron Man VR, an upcoming Quest game that was previously a PS VR exclusive, as well as Among Us VR. Meta, which owns Facebook, also announced that it was acquiring three major VR game studios -- Armature Studio, Camouflaj Team, and Twisted Pixel -- although we don’t know what they’re working on just yet.

Unfortunately, that’s where the Meta Connect's gaming section mostly ended. Besides tiny glimpses and a look into fitness, video games were not the show's focus. Instead, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted to focus on what seemed to be his company’s real vision of VR's future, which involves a lot of legs and a lot of work with the Quest Pro, a mixed reality headset that'll cost a whopping $1,500.

Read more
Meet the game-changing pitching robot that can perfectly mimic any human throw
baseball hitter swings and misses

Who’s your favorite baseball pitcher? Shane McClanahan? Sandy Alcantara? Justin Verlander? Whoever you said, two of the top sports-tech companies in the U.S. -- Rapsodo and Trajekt Sports -- have teamed up to build a robot version of them, and the results are reportedly uncannily accurate.

Okay, so we’re not talking about walking-talking-pitching standalone robots, as great a sci-fi-tinged MLB ad as that would be. However, Rapsodo and Trajekt have combined their considerable powers to throw a slew of different technologies at the problem of building a machine that's able to accurately simulate the pitching style of whichever player you want to practice batting against -- and they may just have pulled it off, too.

Read more
The best portable power stations
EcoFlow DELTA 2 on table at campsite for quick charging.

Affordable and efficient portable power is a necessity these days, keeping our electronic devices operational while on the go. But there are literally dozens of options to choose from, making it abundantly difficult to decide which mobile charging solution is best for you. We've sorted through countless portable power options and came up with six of the best portable power stations to keep your smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets functioning while living off the grid.
The best overall: Jackery Explorer 1000

Jackery has been a mainstay in the portable power market for several years, and today, the company continues to set the standard. With three AC outlets, two USB-A, and two USB-C plugs, you'll have plenty of options for keeping your gadgets charged.

Read more