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Indoor fireworks? Intel broke records with 100-drone light show at CES

Intel broke world records with a 500-drone light show, but the company’s latest drone record involves fewer drones with a bigger challenge: Indoor flight. During Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, January 8, 100 drones created a light show on stage. The feat is on track to becoming a new Guinness World Record for the most drones flown indoors by a single pilot.

drone light show
The Intel Shooting Star Mini drone is the company’s first drone designed and built to enable indoor light show experiences. It is designed with a super-lightweight structure and propeller guards for safety. Its light source can create more than 4 billion color combinations designed for visually stunning aerial displays. (Credit: Intel Corporation) Intel

The show was put on by 100 Intel Shooting Star Minis, a smaller version of the drone that performed during last year’s Super Bowl LI halftime show and broke the 500-drone outdoor record. The Mini, Intel says, fits in the palm of your hand. Intel designed the mini quadcopter specifically with indoor flight in mind, downsizing the drone’s size while adding safety features, including propeller guards.

Indoor drone flight is difficult because of a lack of access to GPS, smaller spaces and of course, obstacles like walls and ceilings. Intel worked around those difficulties by creating a new system specifically allowing drones to be choreographed while avoiding obstacles, aptly named the Indoor Location System.

Using software, a single person can create a light show with a large fleet of the tiny drones. Intel said the software allows for complex show design in weeks rather than months. Each Shooting Star Mini carries a light that can create more than four billion color combinations.

The new indoor flight record follows Intel’s own outdoor record of 500 drones, set in 2016 in Germany. The previous record was 100 drones, which was also set by Intel. The record has since been broken by the Chinese drone company Ehang with 1,000 drones during the Chinese Lantern Festival in 2017.

This week, Intel is also powering the Las Vegas Strip’s first light show put on drones. Two-hundred and fifty drones were choreographed to Stargazing by Kygo, creating an aerial dance over the Fountains of Bellagio. The show continues with two performances every night through Thursday, January 11 during CES.

The Intel Shooting Star drone is now behind a number of light shows outside of those record-breaking events, including Disney Orlando. While not available for consumers, the system, designed specifically for light shows, appears to be expanding to more venues.

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