Author(s): Raghu Gopal
This past Sunday, at Super Bowl LIII held in Atlanta, Intel teamed up with the NFL to create the first live drone light show for the event's halftime performance. The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting extravaganza in the US.
The display saw 150 of Intel's Shooting Star drones float up and over the field in a choreographed performance to the music of Maroon 5, spelling out the words "One" and "Love". Intel enhanced the drones specifically for the event, to emulate the experience of floating Chinese lanterns.
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is a closed environment, so the drones had to be flown in a pre-programmed path as they couldn't bank on a GPS connection. With the exhibition, Intel beat the world record that it had set at CES 2018 by flying 110 of its machines in an indoor space.
Intel has been keen to promote its drone-led marketing efforts, taking advantage of the growing popularity of these machines for high-profile occasions. Adding to its Super Bowl collaborations in 2017 and 2019, the chip-maker flew 1,200 drones during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and worked with the US military to operate 500 of them in California on Independence Day.
As an official technology provider to the NFL, Intel has also installed its True View technology in 13 NFL stadiums. This captures video from 38 5K cameras and turns footage into 3D replays of the game's highlights. True View uses high-performance computing to transform massive amounts of video footage, offering multiple angles and enabling immersive experiences for fans.
Intel received authorization from the Federal Communications Commission to fly its Shooting Star drones at the halftime show. It was granted an experimental licence to ensure it complied with federal regulations.
We've previously highlighted some interesting tasks that drones are now carrying out, from first-aid missions and shark spotting, to applications in agriculture and industrial markets (see, for example, The Farmhand Drone). The arrival of 5G networks is also set to offer a boost to drones, making them more intelligent and developing new uses for them. A cellular network would also be more attractive for real-time drone-flying, thanks to its low latency and extensive capacity.
Intel is using its drone light displays and True View to show off powerful technologies that should ultimately find uses beyond entertainment. They help keep the Intel brand front and centre with its customers, which is of considerably more value than the financial contribution of these new business areas currently. Given Intel's desire to build new lines of business, this is hardly surprising. And, with 5G network deployments coming this year and Intel hoping to be part of the 5G story, it's highly likely that its drones will soon be showing off their potential beyond light shows.