The 2018 Winter Olympics kicked-off in Pyeongchang, South Korea yesterday, and like any Olympics event, it began with a big, flashy opening ceremony. This time around it included a light show performance from Intel that used a record-setting 1,218 drones, all flying in sync to create imagery including the interlocking Olympic rings and sports events like snowboarding.
The light show used Intel’s Shooting Star drones, which were also featured in Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show last year, and at Intel’s CES keynote back in January. Unfortunately the drone performance wasn’t a live part of the opening ceremony, instead it was pre-recorded due to concerns over Pyeongchang’s cold and windy weather conditions.
The “record-breaking” claim isn’t just for show, either. Intel says the Guinness Book of World Records has recognized the 1,218-drone performance as setting the record for “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously.”
Wired reports that Intel made some minor adjustments to the drones’ rotor cage design, allowing for more stability in the cold, windy climate. The company even went as far testing the drone performance in Finland ahead of the Olympics to make sure the fleet could handle the weather.
Those attending the opening ceremony were still treated to a live drone performance, albeit a much smaller one using a fleet of 300. Intel also adds that it will be putting on a live 300-drone show each evening of the Olympics for the day’s medal ceremony.
Update: Intel tells us that, despite the intention of running a 300 drone light show, in the end that too was cancelled. “Due to impromptu logistical changes, the live drone light show that was to be a part of the Olympic Winter Games Pyeong Chang 2018 Opening Ceremony did not proceed as scheduled,” the company said in a statement. “The live light show was in addition to the record-breaking flight that was performed in advance and shown during the ceremony.”
“Our Ceremonies team worked with Intel on having a live drone light show during the opening ceremony,” POCOG adds in a statement of its own. “During the Ceremony, POCOG made the decision to not go ahead with the show because there were too many spectators standing in the area where the live drone show was supposed to take place.”