— TIME (@TIME) May 31, 2018
In collaboration with Astraeus Aerial Cinema Systems, Intel’s drone team, and L.A. Drones, TIME Magazine decided to use Intel’s Shooting Start drones to hover midair in the shape of its cover page, including the traditional red border. The end image was composed of 958 of those drones hovering in the needed configuration, with as little as five feet (1.5 meters) between each drone. Their permitted flight ceiling was only up to 400 feet, so they had to keep the drones no higher than that.
Those 958 drones are not available commercially; they are Intel proprietary drones, described by CNET’s Ben Fox Rubin: “The drone weighs about as much as a volleyball, is made of foam and plastic, and carries an LED payload that can flash red, green, blue or white.” Intel uses special software to program the drones’ ascent, illumination, and positioning. The software also keeps the drones from mid-air collisions!
The 959th drone was actually a much bigger and heavier drone, tasked with carrying the camera that would remotely take the final image of the TIME cover.
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