By midday in France on Friday, early in the night in Tokyo, Japan, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was in full swing. A demonstration of 1,800 drones over the Olympic stadium was broadcast around the world, accompanied by John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, revisited by the talented Hans Zimmer.

This was not the record for the most aircraft in the air, but a new opportunity to introduce the general public to a new form of night-time spectacle, rivaling fireworks. In one year, its place in entertainment industry events has exploded, with “fireworks with a cooler edge” rivaling traditional firecrackers.

1800 drones for the opening ceremony

The 2020 Olympics

have been

pushed back to Friday, July 23, 2021, because of the pandemic, and will end on August 8. For the event, the organization had 1800 drones rise and these drones presented different paintings, including the planet Earth formed by its continents.

An event conducive to world records, the Olympic Games did not, however, seek to register the largest number of drones in the air. It must be said that the barrier is high. At the beginning of April, the world record was won by Hyundai on the occasion of the debut of its new Genesis brand. 3,291 drones

took to the

skies of Shanghai.

New industry

To prepare such a spectacle, very special programs and licenses are required. Very few companies in the world have them. Shows with drones are still reserved for big event budgets, as the demand is much higher than the supply.

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In December in Toronto (Canada), rapper Drake paid tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) for a shoot involving several hundred drones, to announce his new clothing collaboration with Nike, “Nocta”. The advantage of the concept is that it rivals fireworks for its customizability and innovation in the eyes of the general public.

The event near the shores of Lake Ontario, carried out in the middle of the night for privacy and air traffic reasons, was done by a small company of passionate developers. Their website was still very poor in representation, while they developed their own software after months of work. The entire service, which we were able to discover on site, was done by computer.

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These few players offering such services are not all small companies. In view of the opportunity, if there is competition with fireworks, big names in tech are showing interest. Such is the case with Intel, which in 2018 registered a first record with a symbolic number of 2018 drones sent into the air at the same time. The aircraft model came straight out of the company’s internal teams.

No more noise pollution, no more waste, no more fire hazards… everything suggests that drones have a serious case for replacing fireworks at nighttime shows and events. Record 100 drones in 2015, 2018 drones in 2018, 3291 drones in 2021… capabilities are growing rapidly.

The advent of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) should continue to push drone capabilities further for ever more grandiose shows. Intel announced it three years ago: with their LED panels, its small drones can display a palette of 4 billion color combinations. The pyrotechnics can only bow.

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