Intel sets a record with 1218-drone salute for Olympics' opening ceremony

Tech giant Intel says unexpected last-minute "logistical challenges" forced it to scrap plans to launch hundreds of small drones that were to put on a light show as part of the pageantry at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

ThoughWired notes that similar drone displays "have taken place before", the display featured during the opening ceremony is reportedly "record-setting", and other drone displays will be revealed "nightly for the medal ceremonies".

We've seen these Shooting Star drones from Intel in action several times before, and their latest outing is part of a deal between Intel and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"And while more drones does provide a broader canvas, it perhaps more importantly affords a better sense of depth".

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The record-breaking light show surpasses Intel's previous record of 500 drones flown at one time in Germany in 2016. Everything is managed from a central computer system, which coordinates the drones on the fly based on things like individual battery life and GPS signal.

"Since fireworks in the seventh or eighth century, there has been no alternative option", Anil Nanduri, the vice president and general manager of Intel's drone division, told AdWeek.

While the scale of the Olympics drone show was unprecedented and surely magical to watch, the slightly less sexy fine print is that it was a prerecorded performance, mainly to avoid the harsh weather conditions expected during the opening ceremony.

As impressive as the drone performance might be, Intel isn't done. Each is kitted out with LED lights and capable of creating more than 4 billion color combinations. After all the planning, the actual programming of the drones is fairly fast, taking just 10 or 15 minutes before they're ready to fly. NBC tweeted on its official @NBCOlympics page: "A swarm of drones brings us one of the most incredible sights of the #OpeningCeremony". "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".

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