Intel Just Flew 100 Shooting Star Mini Drones Indoors at CES

Intel just set a Guinness World Record for flying 100 Shooting Star Mini drones indoors, from a single computer.

Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation/

Drone light shows have become a pretty popular marketing ploy for companies like Intel, who can show off their sophisticated software platforms required to pull off synchronizations of this scale. On Monday night, Intel flew 100 Shooting Star Mini drones indoors at CES in Las Vegas, after CEO Brian Krzanich delivered a keynote address which included an assurance that fixing Intel’s recent security flaws has been an absolute priority. We’ve seen Intel perform synchronized drone light shows before; last year at Coachella, in Singapore last August, and to promote the Warner Bros. home video release of Wonder Woman (2017) in Los Angeles last September. This performance, however, differed in two major ways. Firstly, these drones are smaller than the original Shooting Star model, and secondly, this was all done indoors.

According to Slate, the 100 Shooting Star Minis flew above the audience at Intel’s CES panel inside the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and were controlled entirely by one operator alone. The previous iteration worked quite the same way, although doing this indoors requires a minor yet significant approach. Instead of using GPS to guide and synchronize the drone fleet’s movements, Intel used a new location detection system developed in-house, as GPS isn’t reliable enough indoors to risk a faulty presentation. In addition, the Minis used Sunday reportedly weren’t fitted with obstacle avoidance sensors, and don’t inter-communicate with one another. The patterns and movements were all pre-programmed and overseen by one single drone operator sitting at a computer. 

In a statement provided to us, Intel's general manager of drone light shows, Natalie Cheung, said "The new Intel Shooting Star Mini system is a groundbreaking new platform that allows multiple drones to fly at indoor venues controlled by just one pilot. Indoor venues such as sports arenas, concert stadiums and conference halls were all previously impossible to operate in. We had to design a new system that was built for indoor drone light shows – a drone that was safe and small enough to fly indoors. We are looking forward to bringing this new indoor experience to audiences."

Take a look at Intel's light show here, for a pretty dazzling display of aerial choreography (although I have to say, it'd be far more impressive were one in the actual room).

Drone light shows are a pretty smart way to bring attention to one's company, as a feast for the eyes combined with sophisticated technology is something anyone and everyone are honest enough to admire. In 2016, Intel set a Guinness World Record in Hamburg, Germany for flying 500 of their Shooting Stars at once. On Sunday, they set yet another one for flying the most drones from one computer simultaneously indoors. Lady Gaga implemented a few hundred at her 2017 Super Bowl halftime show. Movie studios are using drone light shows to celebrate successful movie rollouts. Drones are now officially a part of a creative marketing strategy, and Intel seems to be pretty aware of the potential, here. Of course, Shooting Star Minis or their previous, larger models, aren’t for sale. They’re there to sell something else, and so far—that seems to be working.