Regional expertise was needed for “the largest drone display in the southern hemisphere” to go ahead in Sydney.
Newcastle company, Aviassist, trained pilots for the drone spectacular at the the Elevate Sydney festival.
In order to operate drones commercially in Australia, individuals must obtain a remote operating pilot license, which Aviassist provide through the five-day course. Organisations must also get event-specific permission from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
“So we trained the people from Intel over a five-day period to get their remote pilot’s license,” Aviassist’s managing director, Ross Anderson, said.
“Intel works all over the world and have piloted shows like the Tokyo Olympics. This was their first time doing a display in Australia so had to get accredited here.”
“The Intel guys have said it is one of the more challenging regimes they’ve had to go through,” Mr Anderson said.
As part of the Elevate Sydney festival, the show consisted of 500 drones networked together to run a series of displays. Mr Anderson said the routine ran for 11 minutes “from take-off to touch-down”.
“The display is designed by event organisers and brought to life by Intel,” Mr Anderson said.
“It’s mostly pre-programmed and all 500 drones were operated from a single laptop.
“All the drones show up in different colours on the laptop. Green is all good and yellow means there’s something you need to look at. Red is bad.”
The display featured “word art”, spelling out phrases such as ALWAYS WILL BE and GADIGAL. It also displayed images including a boomerang and waratah.
“Some of the best bits were the moving displays, like the flying cockatoo and surfer girl.”
Elevate Sydney ran from the first to the fifth of January on the Cahill Expressway. The SkyShow launched at 10pm each night from a barge “chock-a-block” with drones below the Harbour Bridge, Mr Anderson said.
Based out of Mayfield East, Aviassist worked with Intel and Brisbane company Mirragin to make the show happen.
“We were engaged by Intel to organise the airspace authority application through CASA. On the night, I was responsible for ensuring ferries, waterways, the bridge and airspace were clear,” Mirragin’s chief remote pilot Sue Osborn said.
“The event itself was awesome. There were heaps of people, an amazing atmosphere and the cheering afterwards was unreal. The display itself was mesmerising too.”