Sky’s the limit for drone shows

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Guest post by Alexey Dobrovolskiy

The Covid-19 pandemic has fueled a shift towards all forms of online entertainment. However, recent technology developments have allowed for some offline events to continue to be held, such as celebrations to say ‘thank you’ to healthcare and essential workers,  risking their lives as frontline responders.

Within a few months, drone shows, which were previously seen as something from science fiction, have rapidly opened up a new chapter in the entertainment industry and let event SMEs continue to survive and develop.

Indeed, launching and maintaining a drone show business has turned out to be both easy and affordable.

Self-isolation has pushed a global wave of drone art shows available for enjoyment remotely. For example, the city of Wuhan in China performed a drone show to pay respect to its residents.

Walking giant: Swiss event highlight

Some large-scale drone shows supported at state level took place in June in Dubai, on Sheikh Hamdan’s behalf, and in July in Seoul, organised by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Dozens of smaller-scale shows were also performed around the world by SMEs, with no limitations regarding language and creative input.

April 2020 saw the launch of a wide range of small drone light shows devoted to frontline workers around the world. Examples of companies behind such events include Pablo Air in South Korea, Great Lakes Drone Company in the US, and Platinum Fireworks Inc. in the Philippines.

Key elements of performances included symbols emphasising the gratitude of spectators and helping to create hope and positive emotions. The average number of drones involved in such performances was 60, with Drone Show Software (DSS) from SPH Engineering being adjusted to reflect the requirement of pandemic shows and support COVID-19 frontline workers in an innovative and creative way.

This summer in Europe, Swiss Drone Show AG (SDS), an SME focused on drone show solutions, garnished the sky over the Bellevue Plaine, organising the very first performance of this kind in Valais.

A creative mind is always a good idea in order to develop innovative choreography to attract spectators

The company contributed to the ‘SIERRE SHINES’ festival, a Covid-19 compliant event that was accompanied by a car drive-in party on the Swiss National day of August 1.

SDS used specially designed light show drones: fast, dynamic and in Switzerland. The drones were equipped with super bright RGB LED lights, operated via a ground station and managed by DSS.

The highlight of the tailor-made choreography was a drone swarm that formed the image of a giant walking around in the sky, allowing spectators to enter a dream-like state while enjoying the warm summer night and festive atmosphere.

So, if you are an event or marketing SME looking for a guaranteed WOW-effect at an outdoor night event or for an unusual ad format, here are a few steps to start your own drone show.

Firstly, organise a team of at least one engineer responsible for working with the software, and one drone specialist familiar with drone assembly and manual piloting

A creative mind is also always a good idea in order to develop innovative choreography to attract spectators. Secondly, consider some educational investment so as to get familiar with Drone Show Software, either offline in Latvia or online.

Probably the smallest show to start with would require 20 drones, although some performances choose to start with 50 or even 100. So why not give it a try and launch your first drone show!

Alexey Dobrovolskiy is Chief Technical Officer, Member of The Board and Co-Founder at SPH Engineering, a leading UgCS software developer and integration services provider for unmanned aerial systems. More about them here.