The New England Patriots scored yet another Superbowl win over the Atlanta Falcons who were going for their maiden victory in the penultimate game of the NFL season.
Lady Gaga provided some of the half time entertainment, accompanied by hundreds of drones, flying in unison and forming the American flag over the NRG Stadium, in Houston, Texas.
The technology for the drones was provided by Intel, and how this was accomplished seems surprising and almost risky until you look deeper under the hood.
The drones themselves are lightweight and low tech, lacking even the most basic abilities of their more advanced cousins. Designed by Intel to be put together in minutes, they consist of a styrofoam body, four rotors, and a big LED light on the back which sets the night sky aglow.
When Intel says the drones can’t do much, they mean it, they even lack sensors, or the technology to avoid impact with each other. The real power is in the software which controls each drone individually, tracking them along predetermined routes. Sounds simple, until you consider the drones need to take off at the same time and perform different maneuvers in close proximity to each other. Then there’s takeoff, in which each drone launches within moments of the other, but with the appearance of being simultaneous, with certain drones starting the display while others are still on the ground.
The display at the Superbowl consisted of 300 drones, but Intel has used almost double that at in a display DisneyWorld and says the scalability is almost limitless, with 10,000 being mathematically possible on the current setup without any enhancements required.
While this technology is limited to entertainment for the time being, Intel sees big things for roaming drone packs, which they hope will be checking the exterior of aircraft, putting out fires and carrying out high-rise maintenance before too long. In the meantime, there’s no denying that the Super Bowl halftime performance was an impressive demonstration of software at its best.