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Drone Light Shows Are Making an Impact

April 27, 2017

Docomo and Zerotech appeal to the newest entertainment craze

In case you were wondering what 10 drones in one carrying case looks like, it looks like this. A little ridiculous, but still pretty cool.

From Coachella to Cirque du Soleil, drones are making a big impact in entertainment. These two new drone concepts will help bring “dronetertainment” to the masses — one LED-laden quadcopter at a time.

Zerotech gets spacy

Drone swarm technology has been a big part of what has brought drone light shows to events like this year’s Super Bowl. The automation and pre-programmed nature of such performances allows them to be predictable and safe — but also makes them far too expensive for a consumer or small company to recreate.

Fortunately, Chinese drone-maker Zerotech has figured out a way to scale the system down to make it more affordable. Through its new Zerospace offering, Zerotech enables drone light shows at a more manageable level.

The Zerospace Drone Formation Dance Set comes with eight individual Dobby pocket drones. A phone application will control these drones through one of 10 preprogrammed flight patterns, as seen in the video above. It’s a little disconcerting to think that one phone app will be controlling up to eight drones at once, but we’re going to have to trust Zerotech on this one. After all, the flight shown in that video looks pretty damn impressive. If you’ve wanted to see the Intel Shooting Star light show in real life, this might be a way to see a more accessible version of a drone light show.

If you look carefully inside the drone's cage, you can see the vertical strips of LEDs. These strips quickly rotate, allowing for the illusion of a still image. 

Having a ball

Drones with spherical cages aren’t new, but the ability to use a drone as an aerial, spherical LED display is. Japanese electronics company Docomo created a truncated icosahedron — the same pattern that’s on a soccer ball — to encase the drone. Inside the cage are eight curved LED strips that spin rapidly as the drone flies, creating the illusion of a solid image.

Docomo hopes to commercialize the drone by 2019. According to a press release, the company will “explore potential entertainment and messaging solutions for event venues, including stadiums and concert halls.” So, pretty much the exact same contexts in which Intel’s LED drones have been used.

The Docomo drone will be on show at the Niconico Chokaigi festival in Japan on April 29 — it will be interesting to see what the company chooses to display on the drone’s first public appearance.

These two newly unveiled drone offerings are representative of a growing interest in drone entertainment. Curious about how drones are contributing to music, theater, and other live shows? Pick up the May/June 2017 issue of Drone360 magazine for our feature on dronetertainment. It hits newsstands May 16.