Intel Swarms Skies With Hundreds of ‘Shooting Star’ Drones
Image: courtesy Intel Corporation
Intel, a company best-known for creating the processing chips that power many of our desktops and mobile devices, is stepping deeper into the drone market—but not necessarily in the way one might think. Recently, the company announced the Intel Shooting Star drone, the first autonomously-flying drone created especially for creating public light shows in swarm-like numbers.
Video: courtesy YouTube user Intel
The drone is lightweight—a scant 280 grams, or “less than the weight of a volleyball,” Intel says in a fact sheet—for safe flying, particularly in the numbers that Intel has been showcasing as of late. A screw-less construction of flexible plastics and foam, plus propellers that are covered by cages, reduces potential harm. The drone can even fly in light rain.
Built-in LED lights on each drone allow for more than 4 billion color combinations using the red, green, blue, and white options. Proprietary algorithms will help light show designers turn their visions into technical plans that determine how many drones will be required and discover the most efficient flight plan for each. The software conducts a check of every drone within the fleet before any flight and optimizes based on battery life, GPS reception, and more.
Right now, Intel can fly hundreds of Shooting Star drones in a single fleet, but suggests that it soon hopes to expand to even larger numbers. The company even negotiated with the FAA to acquire a Part 107 waiver that allows a whole fleet to be piloted by a single person, at night, within the U.S. In the past, they were limited to a 100-drone fleet, but recently expanded well beyond that, to 500.
Despite is lightweight construction and sophisticated software, the Shooting Star isn’t a great option for regular consumers who are hoping to dip their toes into flying drones and other UAVs. Other affordable options, such as those from Parrot, Yuneec, or DJI, will offer better flight times and more manual controls.
But the Shooting Star Drone is just a part of Intel’s bigger strategy around drones and UAVs. In a press release, the company said, “We believe drones are an important computing platform for the future and we are continuing to invest in technologies and companies that will enable us to provide the best compute, sensor, communications and software integration for the growing drone ecosystem.”
The company has acquired MAVinci GmbH, a German drone company that develops flight planning software. Presumably, Intel will roll those features and algorithms into future Shooting Start software updates. On top of that, the company is working on its Aero Platform for developers, and a collaboration with Yuneec to produce better collision avoidance features.