Imagine fireworks that you can control through the air. That's the basic idea of Intel's Shooting Star drones, which are starting to change the game when it comes to spectacular light shows. For their latest outing, the diminutive aircraft were shown forming airborne snowboarders and iconic rings for the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Intel's Shooting Star drones first arrived on the scene in early 2016, and since then they've gone from strength to strength. After initially claiming a Guinness World Record for the most drones in flight simultaneously with a fleet of 100, Intel soon followed that with a 500-strong effort and took its high-flying robots to Disney World for some Christmas-themed spectacles.
It has now eclipsed these efforts by unleashing a total of 1,218 Shooting Star drones in South Korea. Programmed to form snowboarders, Olympic rings and a bird flapping its wings, Intel had planned to launch the drones during the Opening Ceremony as part of a live event, but due to an "impromptu logistical change," it was left to simply air a pre-recorded version instead.
There is a little public relations trickery at play here, with Intel not making it all that clear that the flight shown during the televised opening ceremony actually took place in December. And broadcasters like NBC are playing along and Intel itself is celebrating the feat on Twitter.
"Could a world record be set even before the Olympic Games begin?" it asked on Twitter on February 8, knowing full well that the record was already in the bag.
Timing aside, the flight really is quite incredible, and is the most impressive example yet of how the Shooting Star drones can provide event organizers with new means of creating awe-inspiring sky shows. Equipped with LEDs, they weigh only 700 g (24.7 oz) apiece, and as we can see in the following video, can be programmed to follow intricate flight paths to form tight-knit and incredible shifting patterns in the sky.