In Asia, they’ve been around for years, but they’re starting to catch on elsewhere, too: In the United States, they’ve replaced fireworks on the Fourth of July, but they’re still very expensive.
For years, images and videos of drones with lights mounted to form huge pictures in the sky have been arriving with a certain frequency from Asian countries. These renderings, also called “drone art”, were initially used primarily on the occasion of large events such as the opening of the Olympics, but have increasingly been adopted in many different situations: as a backdrop for particularly impressive concerts, to form huge advertisements or Reproduction of political advertising slogans.
On the occasion of the celebration of July 4, Independence Day in the United States, many cities have decided to replace the traditional and effective fireworks displays with drone art displays, in order to avoid the loud noise made by the drums – which is too annoying for him. Pets and people with PTSD – and at the risk of accidental fire in areas that are still too dry.
In practice, to set up a drone art show, it is necessary to have a certain number of remotely piloted aircraft (more commonly known as drones). The simplest demonstrations require a few dozen drones, but the most spectacular ones require more: the first demonstration, dating back to 2012, was held in the Austrian city of Linz and involved 49 drones; The largest to date, held in the Chinese city of Shenzhen last October, involved the simultaneous flight of 5,164 drones.
Drones are controlled by software programmed to control their movements and colors, to form rather complex graffiti and shapes. These programs allow you to create virtually choreographies, pre-plan the location and trajectory of drones and calculate the speed and space occupied by each device to avoid collisions. The distance between the drones is usually between 2.5 and 3 metres. Many LED lights are installed on each lamp which emits a very strong light that can be seen from a great distance. In all cases, it is preferable that the show be at night if it is in the open air and in the absence of rain or wind.
Apart from the American company Intel, which produces Shooting Stars, among the most used drone models in these shows, almost all the major companies in this sector are Asian, based in China or Singapore. In Asia, these technologies have certainly found by far the most sophisticated and innovative applications, as they are used a lot for political and advertising purposes as well as just for entertainment.
In Wuhan, for example, a thousand drones in 2020 been used to announce the first closing; in Shenzhen To thank Nurses take part in infection treatment on International Health Care Workers Day. In September 2021, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence, hundreds of drones took the shape of the Alabay dog and the Akhal-Teke horse, which are the country’s national symbols. In April of the same year, a huge QR code appeared in the sky in Shanghai, allowing anyone who viewed it to download a game to a smartphone.
Even in the West, this kind of show is on the rise. They are staged in London first on New Year’s Eve and then for the coronation of King Charles, in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, in the US for Superbowl festivals, on the occasion of major festivals such as Coachella or political events such as the celebrations of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
In Italy, the first was held in 2019 in Turin on the day of San Giovanni, the patron saint of the city, but there were many others: in December 2022 in Rome, various cartoon characters rehearsed, broadcast by Cartoon Network, to celebrate the 30th anniversary. from the TV channel, and at the beginning of January on Lake Como There was a show which included a hundred drones. One of the most European complexes so far took place in Milan, in early May: in this case, the beverage company Campari staged a twelve-minute show, representing the various famous symbols of the city with more than a thousand drones, to announce the redesign of a classic bottle.
Particularly in the United States, the use of drones is seen as a complement to, if not a replacement for, pyrotechnics. For example, the city of Boulder, Colorado, was struggling to find a new supplier of pyrotechnic materials after it had historically gone out of business during the pandemic: also given the strong concerns of citizens, who had recently had to deal with it with a series of particularly devastating fires, it chose to celebrate Independence Day with a display of 140 drones that formed different national symbols in the sky. According to the US National Fire Protection Association, fireworks were responsible for more than 12,000 fires in the country in 2021 alone.
«Drones are more comprehensive», He made it clear Lindsey Tweedy, who organizes municipal events in Salt Lake City, Utah, a city that this year favored a drone art show over classic fireworks. “Fires can be harmful to people with PTSD or families with pets.” Concern about pets has also been voiced by the city governments of La Jolla and Ocean Beach, California, which have also opted for a drone-focused bid.
The main limitation for the further spread of this type of entertainment at the moment is economic: in addition to the cost of investing in a large amount of high-quality drones, even just setting up a small show costs about 20 thousand euros, a figure that reaches 300,000 euros when using hundreds of devices .
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