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

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.

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.

Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Tesla Model Y, The Missing Link, and good digital hygiene

Episode 89 of Digital Trends Live covered topics including Tesla's newest crossover, as well as an interview with What's Trending co-founder Shira Lazar. We also talked about Laika Studios' latest stop-motion animated film, Missing Link.

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.