The Winter Olympics’ first-ever drone light show has earned Intel the title from Guinness World Records for the “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously.”
There might be an asterisk in the record book, however: The show didn’t actually take place at today’s opening ceremony for the PyeongChang Olympics in South Korea. Instead, it was pre-recorded last December for broadcast during the event, just to make sure that bad weather or a technical glitch didn’t spoil the view.
The synchronized flight of 1,218 Intel Shooting Star drones broke Intel’s previous record of 500 drones, flown simultaneously in Germany in 2016. The performance also surpassed the 300-drone salute that was pre-recorded with Lady Gaga for Super Bowl LI last year.
For the Olympic show, Intel’s drones were programmed to paint the sky with colorful imagery, including the 3-D outline of a snowboarder that morphed into the Olympic rings.
Intel’s robotic fireflies are quadcopters that weigh 12 ounces, or as much as a can of soda, and are equipped with an array of LED lights. All the drones for the shows are controlled by one computer and one drone pilot.
In addition to the drone show for the opening ceremony, Intel designed and developed custom animations keyed to different sports for the Olympics’ nightly victory ceremonies.
“We are honored to have Intel drones playing several roles at the Olympic Games,” Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager of Intel Drone Group, said in a news release. “Not unlike the athletes competing in the events, we continue to push to innovate and develop the drone technologies that inspire people all over the world.”
Intel’s Shooting Star drones are designed specifically for entertainment purposes, providing an indoor-outdoor alternative to fireworks.
But Intel makes other types of drones for more traditional applications such as aerial photography and inspections, as well as the software platforms to go with them.
Intel Capital has also invested in ventures ranging from Yuneec for hobbyist drones, to PrecisionHawk for aerial surveys, to Volocopter for air taxis.