Did you know that there were a number of firsts during this year’s Super Bowl? One football team made an epic comeback and Tom Brady… well, you know the story… But, the biggest first that occurred during halftime was the use of Drones!!! Perhaps Lady Gaga’s performance was also something to be appreciated, but I was particularly interested in the Intel “Shooting Star,” which was the first time that drones were televised as part of an entertainment event. And it was definitely entertaining, even if it was recorded the day before (consistent with federal regulations, specifically for UAS operations over people).
The Shooting Star isn’t your typical store-bought drone. 300 (or more) can be flown at once by a single pilot and the collective swarm can make over 4 billion color combinations to bring light to life in the sky for up to 20 minutes. What is even more fascinating is what this could mean for the future of the unmanned aircraft industry. We just saw Intel, one of the industry’s leading pioneers, put on a display that was only a fraction of what this industry is capable of. Recently, at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I saw amazing technological solutions that could perform a multitude of activities from delivering packages in less than 10 minutes to flying coast-to-coast without any human interaction – and that’s what is technically possible today (though not yet enabled by a still-evolving regulatory landscape). Beyond the current trend of using UAS primarily for pictures and video, the Super Bowl showed us that there are other possibilities that we might have not considered and, perhaps, problems that can be solved with UAS solutions if we opened our minds to them. And why not? Like the cellphones we carry in our pockets, which now allow us to call anyone, order anything, replicate capabilities otherwise traditionally limited to personal computers, and/or perform a multitude of tasks with the swipe of our fingers, the future of UAS could become just as integrated into our existence as a smart phone.
I hope that colorful, elegant display of advanced technology inspires the next generation of Unmanned Systems thinkers and innovators. Who knows, maybe one day a drone will be your next taxi cab.
- Andy Osantowske, Senior Unmanned Aircraft Systems Analyst at Evans Incorporated