WWF’s Earth Hour Event with spectacular drone swarm light show – 3 years after

19. March 2016

At the Earth Hour Event 2013 30 AscTec Hummingbirds flew over London. By order of Paramount Pictures an AscTec Hummingbird drone swarm formed a three-dimensional star trek logo at 9.30 pm. Looking back it was nothing less, but a milestone to the drone swarming Guinness World Record with Drone 100.

Earth Hour Event 2013 / Star Trek Into Darkness

The idea makes sense: The annual Earth Hour Event from the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) intends to attract people’s attention around the world to energy consumption. Individuals and companies demonstrate commitment shutting down energy or turning off lights at a certain local time worldwide. The aim is to provide support and awareness for responsible handling of resources.

To promote its new Star Trek blockbuster Paramount Pictures invited London to follow “Into Darkness”. Resulting in a spectacular Earth Hour final with a 40 meters high light signal of the well-known Star Trek Logo, the so-called starfleet insignia. 30 micro UAVs/drones formed it and turned around as formation besides the Thames. It was an incredible moment. With great awareness for both the Hollywood movie as well as the environmental project.

Drone’s collaboration – swarm intelligence & automated networking

“With this drone swarm, we have developed a completely new art form, a flying light sculpture. And the mission for Paramount Pictures shows that it might be even commercially interesting to develop this art form further.” Horst Hoertner, Ars Electronica

The show was carried out by AscTec Hummingbird quadcopters produced by Ascending Technologies. The small helicopters, weighing only a little bit more than one pound, are powered electrically. They have an on-board GPS module, with which they can autonomously find and hold their position. Which position says a software developed by Ars Electronica Futurelab by radio control. With their small LED bulbs as payload, the quadrocopters can form and shine in the sky.

The unmanned micro UAVs/drones have been developed and produced in Germany. You may a recognized it in numerous inspiring clips on Youtube, since universities like the MIT, UPenn, TU Munich, ETHZ et cetera use it for research and development testing.

To accomplish the necessary reaction speed of quadrocopter with little latency, all communication between the swarm and ground station passes over a specially developed 2.4 GHz transmission link. For the London show the communication among the quadrocopters as well as to the ground station was improved.

Based on the design software 3D Studio Max the Ars Electronica Futurelab developed a control software for the swarm. Link in a 3D animation designers define the three-dimensional shape of the light sculpture, and its movements. The respective results are forwarded to the flight control software, which sends the coordinates to the quadrocopters. The system is immune to interference from cellular phone or wireless networks. It takes into account even small deviations in position by GPS measurement errors or wind, so that secure choreography possible.

After its world premiere at the Linz “Klangwolke” festival this was the second mission of the quadrocopter swarm. ” This production was a really big challenge, but that’s exactly what makes it so fascinating,” says Horst Hörtner, director of the Ars Electronica Futurelab. The most important step was the development of a new, three-dimensional choreography in a short time. ” Now, not even a year later, this show in London impressively demonstrated what we’ve achieved in the meantime,” says Daniel Gurdan, CEO and Head of Development at Ascending Technologies.

Guiness World Record “Drone 100”

Dubbed Drone 100, the spectacle set a Guinness World Record for most UAVs airborne simultaneously. When video of Drone 100 was first shown during Krzanich’s CES 2016 keynote two months later, he said it redefined the fireworks experience without the inherent risks of traditional pyrotechnics. “The past can be replaced by new creativity powered by drones,” he told the CES audience. “This is what it means to reinvent experiences using new technology.”

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