While Intel unveiled its first commercially available drone this week with the Falcon 8+ drone, it made even bigger news when it broke its record for a simultaneously launched drone flight that featured 500 of its Shooting Star drones controlled by a single operator. While the Falcon is Intel’s wanting into the growing drone space, the Shooting Star drones and recently granted permission from the FAA are designed to be flown for amusement parks, companies, sports teams and cities for celebrations and special events.

Intel Drones
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

Intel sets the record at 400 more than its first record of 100 drones

While it’s doubtful that a light show from the tiny Shooting Star drones outfitted with LED lights will ever replace 4th of July fireworks displays that most larger cities have to celebrate Independence Day each summer, they certainly have some utility for the company looking to make a splash in the market with commercial drones and software which controls them.

Guinness World Records adjudicator Lena Kuhlman was on hand to watch the 500 tiny drones fly in formation and “write” ‘500’ before rearranging themselves into a multi-colored Intel logo. Clearly this wouldn’t be possible with five hundred operators, and in this case, the work was done with software, a laptop, and a single operator.

“These drones can fly as a fleet, this is the first time ever we can show it works so well with so many drones!” said Daniel Gurdan, Intel Engineering Lead.

Natalie Cheung, Intel Light Show Business Lead told Guinness, “We’re showing regulators around the world that UAV technologies used the right ways can help shape new rules for manned and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Despite being small in stature, the Shooting Star drones are able of reaching over 20 miles an hour while flying in formation and the company says that they can also manage light rain and moderate wind conditions.

Each drone was controlled independently of the other by the one control with the Shooting Star drones unable to communicate with one another, so it’s important to avoid the term “drone swarm,” which other companies are working on and sees each UAV communicating with the other members of the swarm.

Intel’s first commercial drone debuted two weeks ago

While DJI may be the leader in commercially available drones with its line of Phantom machines for consumers and professionals alike, it’s hardly the only company looking to make waves in the market. There are almost an uncountable number of companies looking to challenge this market with GoPro perhaps leading the charge as the most famous company involved since it announced its Karma drone.

Now Intel has added another household name to the race to steal DJI’s thunder a bit with the release of the Falcon 8+ drone.

The eight-rotor drone was announced in Las Vegas at the Commercial UAV Expo in late October. The V-shape layout of rotors is designed to free up the cargo space in the front of the Falcon.

“We’ve really thought about what are some of the issues commercial customers face today and when they want to get that crisp, hi-res image, you don’t want any of the rotors in the image,” said Natalie Cheung, a drone marketing manager at the expo.

“It’s much more compact, and we’ve thought about the user interface for this,” said Cheung referring to the Intel Cockpit system which features one joystick for drone control and another for the camera.