Super Bowl LI had a lot of memorable moments: 20+ records were broken, the first over-time in Super Bowl history, and a well-received half-time performance and light show. Many half-time light shows feature fireworks, but this year the light effects came from drones. The Shooting Star drones, created specifically for light shows, were provided by Intel. Intel’s’ drones have also been used for the Starbright Holidays show at Disney and in Germany to establish a Guinness World Record.
The Shooting Star drone was designed with safety in mind. The drone frames are made of flexible plastic and foam. Each propeller is encased in a cage. An LED light is installed on the bottom of each frame, over 4 billion color combinations are possible within the drone swarm. To eliminate operation concerns due to rain, the Shooting Star drones are developed for water resistance and can fly in wind speeds up to 8 meters per second.
Weight: 280 grams (9.88 ounces)
Range: 1.5 kilometers (.93 miles)
Flight Time: 20 minutes
The Shooting Star drones are operated by one pilot and an automated system. Programming from a central computer sends commands for drone swarm formations. To provide the technology needed to orchestrate large-scale light shows, Intel acquired MAVinci GmbH (a German software company that provided flight planning solutions).
USA Today confirmed it in an interview with Intel Drone’s GM, Natalie Cheung, the drone light show televised during Sunday’s game was a recording. While the Shooting Star drones can operate during light rain and low wind conditions, the weather is hard to predict in early February. To ensure that audiences could enjoy the light show, regardless of the weather, Intel had the show filmed 30 January.
To ensure that no regulations were broken, special permission was requested from the FAA to set the drone light show in motion. This event fell under FAA Regulation 107, which involves commercial drone operation. Concessions were made to enable drone operation in Class C airspace. All drones used in the show had to be inspected for safety and working communications beforehand.