Do you ever look into the evening sky and wonder what it would look like if it were filled with 100 unmanned, illuminated drones dancing to a live orchestral rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony? Well, at least one person did, and they made it reality. They also broke some world records at the same time, proving that unmanned aerial vehicles (AEVs) are pretty solid synchronized dancers.
It all started with a question, writes Ken Kaplan for Intel, which organized the spectacular display. Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, asked one of his marketing directors what he’d do with 100 drones to show off the company’s technology. Stumped (or perhaps inspired), the marketer brought the question to the hive mind at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, an Austrian collective that brings together art, technology and society in awesome new combinations.
Collaborators decided that the best way to use 100 drones was to put lights on them and teach them to dance in the sky. Duh.
A team of 16 decided to use the drones as “spaxels”—pixels in space. They programmed a complex dance routine with custom software, then assigned squads of 25 drones apiece to four drone pilots and put them to work above a live orchestra on an airplane runway in Hamburg.
In the process, the team snagged a Guinness World Record for most drones airborne simultaneously, doubling the previous record held by a drone swarm. Kaplan writes that the dance routine was created in part to remind people that drones aren’t just for things like warfare.
The performance wasn’t the spaxels’ first—they stunned at a number of international shows over the past few years, including an outing at the glitzy Eurovision competition. But this performance was their most spectacular to date. Want to see the spaxels do their thing in person? Check out their list of upcoming shows to see if they are coming to a city near you.