Advertisement

Technology conglomerate Intel cited last minute “logistical challenges” that forced them to cancel plans for launching hundreds of small drones, which were supposed to put on a light show at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea this weekend. While admitting the drone display was scraped last minute, Intel didn’t answer requests to provide more detailed explanations on what caused these last-minute decisions, but did confirm the logistical challenges that caused the show’s abrupt cancellation were “impromptu” in nature.

According to Intel Chief Strategy Officer Aicha Evans, the company planned to launch 300 drones toward the end of the opening ceremony. Hovering about 400 feet off the ground near the stadium, the miniature crafts were intended to dazzle the crowd with light-beamed illustrations depicting Olympic rings, a peace dove, and other symbolic images.

“The planning was very intense, and we had to send teams on the ground very early,” says Evans. “We knew we’d need to understand the wind—it’s very windy up here, and we had to understand the impact of the (cold) temperature. So, we practiced.”

Evans also said the International Olympic Committee requested Intel reduce the number of drones they intended to use for the live show, a request the company agreed to honor. Each drone had roughly the same weight as a volleyball, was fitted with LEDs that could contribute towards beaming any shape, and could form up to four billion different color combinations.

Back in December, Intel set a Guinness World record for “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously,” when the company launched 1280 of its drones in PyeonChang, in a pre-recorded light show. The pre-recorded event aired on NBC’s tape-delayed broadcast of the opening ceremonies in the United States, which showed the December footage. The video depicted a drone light show forming the same images that were supposed to be displayed live.

The opening ceremony show that was canceled last minute, was going to be a pared down version of the December display, with less than one-fourth of the total drone numbers poised to participate.

“During the ceremony, the 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,” a statement from the Olympic organizing committee said, regarding why the drone light show never occurred.

Intel previously garnered a lot of attention for their drone technology after their Shooting Star crafts were used at the 2017 Super Bowl during Lady Gaga’s halftime show. Intel spent months working on their opening ceremony performance for the Olympics, in addition to reportedly being involved with other future drone-related projects and events.

Advertisement
Advertisement