Superbowl Half-Time shows are a spectacle watched by millions. This year the performance was handled by Lady Gaga and 300 drones. The drones in question were developed by Intel and are aptly named Shooting Stars. A Shooting Star drone weighs in at a mere 280 grams and contains no screws, only foam and flexible plastics. In the great American tradition the drones formed an American flag and then a (really big) word from Superbowl sponsors, Pepsi.
The performance wasn’t live. A Shooting Star can only handle winds of up to 10 meters per second, which is enough to shake a small tree. Instead of submitting to the whims of the weather the spectacle was filmed before the game took place. All 300 were controlled via a central computer with a second pilot on standby should things go wrong.
Man made shooting stars
This isn’t the debut of Shooting Stars. Intel have previously showed them off in Germany and at Disney World in Florida, they plan to take them on the road again now they’ve reached a critical mass of exposure. Intel didn’t have a monopoly on drones at the Super Bowl however, Amazon’s Super Bowl spot demonstrated how Doritos can fly through a select number of British windows.
“Alexa, reorder Doritos from Prime Air” “Ok, look for delivery soon.”
British windows are the important caveat. Drone delivery is currently banned in US cities because it is really scary to think what would happen if thousands of drones were clogging airspace near airports and weaving round skyscrapers.
The Amazon slot is really a masterstroke of advertisement-lobbying. Millions of people enhanced by copious amounts of beer, will now be slightly more aware of the fact they can’t get the service. Public opinion is definitely on the side of convinience in this case. The people want drone delivery, the policy wonks and programmers will now have even more reason to solve drone air traffic control.
— Amazon Echo (@amazonecho) 6 February 2017
Choreographed drone displays could become a benevolent niche for our flying machines. Inspiring awe without the automated killings.