Super drones send the internet Gaga

By Harry Gardiner

6th February 2017

In case you somehow missed it, last night saw social media set ablaze by the 51st annual Super Bowl. Whilst a few of us are still revelling in the game’s many highlights (go Patriots!), and frantically searching for the latest ads and trailers on YouTube, it’s Lady Gaga’s stunning half-time show that has really got tongues wagging today.

The glitter-covered pop star impressed crowds with an exhilarating aerial display, using a backdrop of illuminated drones to wave a giant American flag, before diving off the roof and into Houston’s NRG Stadium. At least, that’s what it looked like at the time (watch the entire performance here).

Forbidden Flyers
In actual fact, the scenes involving drones were all pre-recorded earlier in the week as legally, they are prohibited from flying over crowds in public places.

This is down to regulative bodies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, who placed several restrictions on the area, forbidding drones flying anywhere near the NRG Stadium and stopping them from doing any acrobatic manoeuvres directly above crowds.

Special Treatment
Whilst the drones were not permitted within a 34.5 mile radius of the stadium on Super Bowl night, the FAA are obviously big pop fans, as they apparently relaxed the rules slightly for Lady Gaga earlier in the week.

This allowed Intel to supply the pop-queen with 300 of its finest shooting star drones, quadcopter gadgets equipped with lights and the ability to shine in billions of different colours. The drones are specifically designed to fly in swarms, and can all be controlled by a single user.

Colourful Future
Whilst this made for a spectacular light show on the night, it also showcases a vast amount of potential for the future of drones. Think about swarms of drones coming to the aid of lost hikers, or being used to investigate a dangerous landslide. It’s not just the emergency services who will benefit from this either. In future we may well see swarm adverts, with hundreds of drones presenting ads to passersby like a hive-minded blimp; floating by office buildings and changing ads on the fly (#sorrynotsorry).

For now though, this is still far in the future. Whilst the tech is evolving rapidly, the law is not, and each new breakthrough is met with tonnes of legislation and restrictions. As drones become more commonplace, and the technology more affordable, we can certainly expect both designers and users to be met with a wave of new rules. Still, at least we can enjoy the light shows whilst we wait for the lawmakers to catch up.