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2018 Winter Olympics and Intel’s record setting drone show

Intel’s just set a record with 1,218 drones that flew together and created different patterns in the sky as part of the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The drones take off separately and are being controlled by one single computer. Once in the air they fly in harmony and create spectacular three-dimensional shapes such as a moving snowboarder or the famous interlocking Olympic rings.

Intel’s largest drone show to date

You have probably seen Intel’s drones before as they were part of Lady Gaga’s SuperBowl show in 2017, and more recently we saw them in Las Vegas at CES 2018. However, the opening show of the Winter Olympics brought together a record number of Intel’s drones. 1,218 of them to be precise.

The precisely coordinated drone show is made possible by Intel’s Shooting Star platform. This system allows large numbers of unmanned quadcopters to fly in a prescribed way. Each drone has onboard LED lights that light up in 4 billion color combinations to create any shape and color combination possible.

“It’s in essence technology meeting art,” says Anil Nanduri, general manager of Intel’s drone group to Wired.

Every drone acts like an aerial pixel if you will and a larger number of pixel make for a more accurate and life-like image in the sky.

“In order to create a real and lifelike version of the snowboarder with more than 1,200 drones, our animation team used a photo of a real snowboarder in action to get the perfect outline and shape in the sky,” says Natalie Cheung, Intel’s general manager of drone light shows.

Intel’s drones can fly for around 20 minutes and of course, exterior factors, such as crosswinds and low temperatures can affect the overall flight time. Intel’s record-setting drone show as prerecorded but the company will be putting up smaller drones shows every evening during the event, weather permitting.

If you missed the live stream of Intel’s drone show, you can catch it again tonight on NBC or on the YouTube video below for as long as that will be up.

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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo