A light show in Wilmington, Delaware, lit up the night sky by spelling out “Biden”, “46” and “USA”. It even included a map of the United States.
It wasn’t just your traditional fireworks at work: the technology that made this possible included a swarm of drones fitted with special lights. It has been used in Disney theme parks for years and featured at other major events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics.
Drone light shows are powered by multiple LED illuminated drones.
Each drone uses a GPS system for its positioning and navigation and is controlled with automated software via a computer. The software can turn the graphics into flight commands that are communicated to each drone. Drones are typically launched from the ground and monitored using wireless communication during the show.
The number of drones used for a show can range from 50 to thousands, with shows lasting around 5 to 15 minutes depending on the weight of the drones and the capacity of the battery. And the costs of a show can be quite high.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval is required to conduct these shows in the United States, as well as night flight exemptions and for the management of multiple drones by a pilot. Only a few selected companies have obtained these authorizations.
Technological conglomerate Intel ( has been a pioneer in drone light show technology, working with major festivals and events including Coachella. The company held the Guinness World Record in 2018 for the most drones used in a show with 2,066 simultaneous drones in a performance. In September, a drone light show in China broke this record with 3,051 drones. )