In a recent event that made the world drop its jaw in awe, a fleet of 1,824 drones lit up the Tokyo skies above the Olympic Stadium arrayed in the symbol of the 2020 Games. It went on to draw the glittering shape of the Earth in the sky to mark the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This luminous spectacle was made possible with drones that hovered in the sky, bringing imagination to life and enthralling huge crowds. In the last few years, the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) market has taken some unexpected turns, equipping brand marketers in a spectacular fashion in their marketing outreach, adding a brand-new facet to advertising that has wowed customers.
Drones have always been a part of giving spectacular aerial views. At its inception, UAS were used as sophisticated military technology and a tool for capturing footage of cityscapes, tourism spots, foliage, etc. But in recent days, business conglomerates have awoken to the power of drones for multiple commercial applications that are used to transform the ordinary – those that go beyond photography, videos, or basic surveillance. Farmers are using drones to monitor crops and collect soil data, and insurance companies are sending drones to inspect damaged assets. And in the last couple of years, drone advertising has started booming, which has surprised the world with some stellar aerial shows!
THE MODERN-DAY SPECTACLE
In this overcrowded marketing space, where business professionals are in constant search of unique ways to reach their audience, drone shows and aerial advertising are quickly becoming the tool of choice for companies that want to grab people’s attention. Hyundai-owned car brand Genesis marked its grand entrance into China using 3,281 drones to display its logo ‘Genesis’, while shattering the Guinness World Record for the Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles flown in the air at the same time. The Disney+ team treated the city of Paris to a 2021 New Year greeting created by a swarm of hundreds of Dronisos drones lighting up the Paris sky. Dronisos also created the promotion of the animated fantasy film ‘Over the Moon’ with a drone show by aligning a drone ballet with the full moon as the backdrop and the movie launch of ‘Men in Black’ at the Giffoni film festival in Italy.
From flying drone shows on big events such as the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to the Super Bowl halftime show, Intel has been a pioneer in the field out of several emerging companies and has done the most to popularize the concept. “The technology was all purpose-built for lighting up the night sky in almost an infinite combination of movements and colors,” says Anil Nanduri, Vice President and General Manager of the Drone Group at Intel.
Apart from commercial uses and advertising, drone shows are also being used as a beacon of hope, a medium to honor our humanity and connectedness in these bleak times. Verge Aero delivered an aerial tribute at the University of Pennsylvania campus to show gratitude for healthcare and essential workers by flying approximately 140 illuminated drones to form images on the current environment to share hope and love for better days ahead. “The show was planned to ensure maximum visibility for those inside the hospital and allow them to view the show while maintaining social distance,” says Verge Aero CEO Nils Thorjussen.
SYNCHRONIZED PERFECT PATTERNS
Almost any image can be recreated in the sky with the drones when a computer program communicates graphics converted flight commands to the drones. Ranging from the type of drone to their accurately calculated flight trajectories algorithm, there is so much that goes from planning to bon-voyage. Drones that are used for light shows are extremely lightweight – the lighter the drone, the easier it is to control and the less power it needs to stay airborne. To choreograph the movement of hundreds of drones takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Using custom-designed algorithms, flight planning teams create the perfect trajectories for each drone. The drone show is then simulated in 3D animation software where flight paths are monitored and conflicting paths that leads to collisions are altered– although with improving technology, like the Verge Aero Design Studio, anti-collision calculations are made automatically.
The batteries of all drones are charged hours before the actual show and each drone is loaded with the show blueprint. Once the ground station has checked the readiness of the drones, they begin to take off and ascend into their programmed trajectories to reach their final positions.
CAN DRONES BE THE NEXT BIG LEAP?
According to Investopedia, the market for drones is estimated to be $127 billion across a variety of industries. Consumers can purchase drones for less than $100 due to economies of scale. This points to a low-investment yet high-reward concept that will find humongous use in the world of business and advertising. The integration of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) could create more than 100,000 jobs for various commercial drone operations on a macroeconomic scale. Apart from aerial shows, drones are making a drastic shift in commercial uses. From 3-D mapping to delivery bots, drones are being looked at as the future area of investment for big companies.
But there is fear that drones will become the unblinking eye in the sky. As these aerial vehicles are built-in with a camera, the widespread use of drones has increased privacy concerns among citizens. Businesses are nervous about corporate and government data collection. Apart from logistical and privacy concerns, the greater number of aerial vehicles poses a higher risk to wildlife, such as birds. But on the brighter side, powered by batteries, drones are easily more environmentally friendly than automobiles. Drone shows are being widely considered as the sustainable alternative for the colorful explosions that send tons of particulate matter and smoke on New Year’s Eve. “I can see fireworks being replaced in the next few years, as several large organizations and universities have started to invest in this area, the cost of drones and software is becoming less expensive, and computer power and technology like 5G will certainly make it a more viable alternative,” says Global Drone Solutions CEO Mahmood Hussein.
As it goes without saying, there is a dark side to technology if used recklessly and against conscious thought, but it is undeniably a bright spot too, much like a drone. If used the right way with the right safety and precautions, drones are sure to revolutionize the commercial world for the better, and these images emblazoned across the horizon might change advertising as we know it.