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Inside Look: Intel’s Shooting Star drones lit up the sky during the Super Bowl

An Intel Shooting Star drones fleet lights up the sky in an American Flag formation during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

In a choreographed aerial light show to kick-off the performance of Lady Gaga’s half-time show, Intel’s Shooting Star drones lit up the sky during the Super Bowl.

An Intel Shooting Star drones fleet lights up the sky in an American Flag formation during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

An Intel Shooting Star drones fleet lights up the sky in an American Flag formation during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

(All images courtesy of Intel)

The Drones used during the Super Bowl are the same Intel drones used earlier during the Walt Disney World Nightime Light Shows

Intel and Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts are collaborating on Starbright Holidays - An Intel Collaboration at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Using all new Intel Shooting Star drones, the presentation paints colorful images across the sky at the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment district. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Intel and Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts are collaborating on Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Using all new Intel Shooting Star drones, the presentation paints colorful images across the sky at the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment district. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

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Here are some interesting facts about the show:

  • This was the first time drones have been used during a televised event and/or Super Bowl and to complement an entertainment act at this scale
  • The show featured 300 drones.
  • The Intel Shooting Star drones are designed specifically for light shows and weigh only 280 grams— less than the weight of a volleyball.
  • The Intel Shooting Star drones feature built-in LED lights that can create over 4 billion color combinations in the sky.
  • The Intel Shooting Star drones are constructed with a soft frame made of flexible plastics and foam containing no screws.
  • The Intel Shooting Star drones can perform for up to 20 minutes.
  • All 300 drones were controlled by one computer and one drone pilot. However, there is always a second pilot on hand as a backup.
  • This was the highest the Intel Shooting Star drones have flown. Intel received a special waiver from the FAA to fly the fleet up to 700 feet. Intel also received an additional special waiver to fly the drones in the more restrictive class B airspace.

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Materials and Engineering

  • Name: Intel Shooting Star Drone
  • Type: Quadcopter with encased propellers
  • Size: 384 x 384 x 93 mm
  • Rotor Diameter: 6 inches
  • Maximum Takeoff weight: 280 g
  • Flight Time: Up to 20 minutes
  • Maximum Range: 1.5 km
  • Maximum Tolerable Wind Speed: 10 m/s
  • Maximum GPS Mode Airspeed: 10 m/s
  • Maximum Light Show Airspeed: 3 m/s

Animation and Operation

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The software and animation interface on the Intel Shooting Star drone system allows a light show to be created in a matter of days or weeks depending on the animation complexity. Intel’s proprietary Algorithms automate the animation creation process by using a reference image, quickly calculating the number of drones needed, determining where drones should be placed, and formulating the fastest path to create the image in the sky.

The light show software also runs a complete fleet check prior to each flight and is able to select the most optimized drones for each flight based on battery life, GPS reception and more. The fleet size is dependent on the animation needed and can range from hundreds of Intel Shooting Star drones or even more in the future.

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The first-of-its-kind Shooting Star drone meets all FCC technical specifications, but has not yet been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission.

Updated: February 6, 2017 — 8:15 pm
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