NEWS: Drones For NASA, GoPro Re-launch and the Super Bowl

What do NASA, GoPro & The Super Bowl have in common? Find out what's going on in the drone industry with Heliguy's Insider News updated from February 2017.

Last updated: Mar 11, 2021

4 minute read

February has arrived and with it comes a new set of stories from the drone industry. We may only be in the second month of 2017 but, as predicted, there are already signs that the progress into public consciousness made by both consumer and commercial drones last year is set to continue. The most refreshing thing to take away from this instalment of Insider News is that it’s all positive for a change! Read on to find out more about product re-releases, aerial showmanship and how scientists are benefitting from the use of drones.

Super Bowl 2017 Dazzles with Drones

Ascending Technologies, a German drone manufacturer that was acquired by Intel last January, wowed crowds with a synchronised drone display put together for the halftime show at Super Bowl 2017. Having successfully negotiated exceptions from the Federal Aviation Administration, the company released 300 drones to light up the sky during a performance by Lady GaGa.
Well, we say during… Apparently, this aerial spectacle along with the rooftop section of GaGa's performance was filmed earlier in the week due to snags in permission to film live, however, it was carried out flawlessly and, intercut with the live proceedings, certainly made an impression on the audience at home. Using the proprietary Intel Shooting Star drone software, it’s reported that the company can create complex light shows within days. The capability of this program has previously been demonstrated at Disney for their holiday season celebration and this appearance at the Super Bowl is sure to cement the tech giant’s position as the go-to drone display specialists.
Drones over the NRG Stadium in Texas The process of creating these aerial images has been explained as follows in the Intel Halftime Show Fact Sheet: Proprietary algorithms automate the animation creation process by using a reference image, quickly calculating the number of drones needed, determining where drones should be placed, and formulating the fastest path to creating the image in the sky. The light show software also runs a complete fleet check before each flight and can select the most optimised drones for each flight based on battery life, GPS reception and more. The fleet size is dependent on the animation needed and can range from hundreds of Intel Shooting Star drones or even more in the future. What’s next for drones as aerial entertainment? We’ll just have to wait and see.

GoPro Karma Back on the Market

While things may not be looking so great for GoPro, especially as far as drones are concerned, it seems this hasn’t dampened their spirits as the infamous Karma is now back on the market. The original launch was widely considered to be a PR nightmare for the company as their drones fell from the sky due to an easily avoidable power coupling failure. GoProKarmaRelaunch GoPro CEO Nick Woodman Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman said: “We’re a little bit embarrassed that it was something as basic as a battery retention issue but at the same time we’re relieved that we can show the world that we do understand drones, we do understand the technology, and that it was an unfortunate mechanical engineering slip-up that led to the recall of Karma.” After these candid admissions, they seem keen to try and put this in the past, even going so far as to refer to the Karma as part of a future ‘line’ of drone products. GoPro is currently offering the Karma Core (which is essentially a replacement aircraft) for £349. However, if you want any peripherals (or propellers for that matter) you’re looking at additional costs. It will be interesting to see how the re-launch goes and we’ll be covering any developments as they occur.

Using UAVs to Monitor Weather Patterns

NASA’s scientists are in the primary stages of developing a UAV capable of high altitude flights which they predict will be able to gather greater volumes of accurate weather data than methods currently in use. Aside from the obvious benefits for the scientific community, NASA is hoping to leverage this data as a saleable asset – netting themselves a tidy profit from companies looking to purchase this data from them. This is yet another example of innovative use cases for drones in a commercial setting and one which has the potential to improve our understanding of weather patterns. NasaWeatherDrone With access to this information, NASA will be able to more accurately determine the optimum conditions to launch satellites, air traffic controllers could make more detailed weather assessments to improve the safety of planes in the air and there’s also the scope to make TV weather forecasts more precise and, therefore, useful. As these plans have now become public knowledge, it will be interesting to see if this kickstarts a race in the UAV industry with rival companies vying for dominance over this nascent market which, in the world of Big Data, could be very profitable indeed.

Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more of the latest news from the drone industry.

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