Like many technological innovations (viz the internet and GPS), drones were first developed in the military field. The aerial vehicle’s ability to fly without a pilot on board made it possible to carry out missions more efficiently than if they were entrusted to a conventional aircraft.
Drones first came to the attention of the public in the early 2000s when the United States used them in Afghanistan. Their roots, however, can be traced back to World War I when countries raced to develop unmanned aerial vehicles.
Drones, previously used exclusively by the military, have now found their way into an array of industries — from search and rescue operations and aerial photography to food delivery and off-the-shelf recreational use. Drones are touted to be the future of efficiency in a variety of consumer industries, promising to transform several sectors. This is a strong statement for the reliability of this innovation.
The launch of the Parrot AR.Drone at the CES 2010 in Las Vegas paved the way for the democratisation of this technology for civilian use. In September 2015, The Economist welcomed us to “The Drone Age”. Today, civilian drones vastly outnumber that of the military.
Drone Light Shows, another application of civilian drones, are artistic performances where multiple drones are flown in a coordinated fashion called a drone swarm. The drones are usually equipped with LEDs and the displays are held at night. Drone light shows are the perfect combination of art and science and can be held both indoors as well as outdoors.
Although still a relatively new field, drone light shows have already made their mark with spectacular displays at events such as the half-time show at the Super Bowl in 2017 and the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in 2018.
On the 15th of July 2018, Intel broke the Guinness World Record for simultaneously flying the most number of unmanned aerial vehicles. The company flew 2,018 drones in Folsom, California, for a 5 minute show. It featured imagery that celebrated Intel’s 50th anniversary. Back in 2015, the world record stood at just 100 drones. This gives you an idea of the pace of development in this field over a very short period, both from a technological as well as artistic point of view.
On the 24th of June 2020, Dronisos, a French tech startup from Bordeaux and European leaders in drone light shows, set a new record for the most number of drones flying indoors simultaneously — 200 drones were used in this record breaking feat. The drone light show celebrated the 3rd edition of the San Giovanni Festival and was broadcast on national television in Italy.
These two records give us a glimpse into the revolution promised by the arrival of drones in the field of artistic performances.
The sky is no longer the limit!