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Intel Wants to Replace Fireworks With Drones

But they could be cheaper, and safer.
Image: Intel

Ah, the raucous thrill of a fireworks show. Whether it's the Fourth of July, Guy Fawkes Night in Britain, or a New Year's Eve celebration, the ecstasy of loud, flying projectiles that go whizz-bang-pop eludes no human.

But the folks over at Intel, most well known for making the chips that go inside of your computers, want to use fleets consisting of hundreds of drones to create light shows in the night sky instead.


Using small quadcopters that fly in numbers, dubbed Shooting Stars, the company reckons that its drone light shows can "redefine entertainment" by creating "new experiences."

Intel launched 500 of its Shooting Stars in a test in Germany recently, and the results are watchable below.

The Shooting Star quadcopter, each of which weighs in at 280g, can stay flying for around 20 minutes, said Intel, and together the fleet can create more than four billion colour combinations with its red, green, blue, and white LEDs.

"With the improved software and animation interface on the Intel Shooting Star drone, a light show can now be created in a matter of days instead of weeks or months," said Intel. The drone shows could come in stark contrast to the rigorous planning, cost, and safety aspects tied to traditional firework displays. According to the American Pyrotechnics Associations, the total annual fireworks industry revenue in the USA is more than one billion dollars, with an approximate 3.5 injuries per 100 lbs of fireworks used. Reusable drones, operated by one pilot as opposed to a crew of safety stewards and display artists, could eradicate much of this.

Read more: A Meteor Gave Spain a Fireworks Show on New Year's Eve

"Intel's proprietary algorithms can automate the animation creation process by using an image and 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."

We have to admit—it does look bloody cool. What's more, Intel says it has worked with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the US to fly these drones as a fleet with just one pilot, meaning that these aerially choreographed feats are fairly easy to organise.

But Intel isn't the only one gunning for a fireworks finale. As reported by MarketWatch, Walt Disney also wants in on the action. The company filed patents for drones called "Flixels" in 2014—small UAVs that would coordinate in fleets and put on a sparkling light LED light show.

Either way, while it's obvious fleets of drones will soon create incredible night sky performances that could be tailored for specific events, fireworks are best kept alight and exploding (as long as they're not fired at drones).

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