BUSINESS

[PyeongChang 2018] South Korea stages world-record drone light show at 2018 Olympic opening ceremony

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Feb 10, 2018 - 17:05
  • Updated : Feb 22, 2018 - 11:40
PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province -- Thousands of glittering drones filled the night skies of PyeongChang at the tech-savvy 2018 Winter Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on Friday, impressing Olympic viewers worldwide.

A record-setting 1,218 drones shot into the sky and traveled to a nearby ski slope, first taking on the shape of a moving snowboarder and later rearranging themselves into the iconic interlocking five Olympic rings.




Adding further excitement to the performance, hundreds of South Korean snowboarders, clad in jumpsuits flashing with LED lights, slid down the slopes with the drones flashing above them, creating a high-tech, futuristic atmosphere. 

The synchronized drone show has gotten the public wondering about the mechanics behind the performance, which will be added to the Guinness World Records for the “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously.”

The drone show was prepared by Intel and its Shooting Star drone technology that allows fleets of drones to be programmed, assembled and operated to create unique, choreographed images.

Intel is among the corporate sponsors for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang that are taking the opportunity to promote its products and services before the global audience.

The Intel Shooting Star drone is a quadcopter that weighs 330 grams, and is constructed with a soft frame made of flexible plastics and foam. It features built-in LED lights able to create over 4 billion color combinations. 

Thousands of Intel's drones light up the sky in the shape of the iconic Olympic rings during the 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony held in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, Friday. (Intel)

Despite the complexity of their routines, all of the drones used during an air show are controlled by a single computer and one drone pilot on the ground, according to Intel.

While the drone performance did play a major part in giving the PyeongChang Olympics Opening Ceremony a major tech spin, some South Koreans expressed regret that the foundational technology came from a foreign company.

“I was extremely impressed by the drone light show at the Olympics opening ceremony,” said Lee Jae-yeon, a 29-year-old South Korean female office worker in Seoul, who watched the opening ceremony via television on Friday.

“Because the event was organized by South Korea, I naturally thought the technology would have come from Korean tech firms. However, that was not the case, which was pretty disappointing,” she said. “I think Korea could have taken better advantage of the opportunity to promote its own, homegrown tech. But still, I do think the drone performance itself was very impressive.”

Previously, South Korea’s PyeongChang Olympics Organizing Committee has pledged to make the Olympics an “ICT Olympics” that highlights Korea’s technological prowess on diverse fronts, be it the next-generation 5G network or robotics.

By Sohn Ji-young (jys@heraldcorp.com)


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