July 4, 2018
Fourth Of July Fireworks Go Hi-Tech In Fire-Prone Areas, As Drone Shows Are Planned In Western States

Drone shows wowed audiences at the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl, and they'll be making a big comeback this Fourth of July in select cities in Arizona, California, and Colorado. While critics wonder whether drones could truly replace the excitement of booming fireworks, proponents point out that they're a safer alternative, especially for fire-prone areas.

While pyrotechnic crews can choreograph jaw-dropping firework shows, drone shows offer an entirely different experience that is hi-tech and precise. Drones with LED lights can spell out words, line up perfectly in neat rows, and emit a wide range of colors, detailed USA Today.

The Travis Air Force Base is planning a drone show to celebrate the Fourth, which will deploy 500 Intel drones into the air. The show will also have synchronized music to the images being displayed in the skies. Intel's Anil Nanduri, general manager of the drone group, elaborated on the process.

"For 12 centuries fireworks were the only way to light up the night sky. Now we have technology that allows us to do precision animation and storytelling – we can write words and draw objects in the sky."
Other places that are planning drone shows include Aspen, Colorado, which will enjoy a show with 50 drones by the Great Lakes Drone Company. In Cave Creek, Arizona, residents can head to two shows that are advertised to be dog-friendly, since there won't be any loud booms to scare the animals.
Although drone shows ensure that fires won't be accidentally started in arid climates, they can't take place when winds are over 13 to 18 miles an hour. That means that a Fourth of July celebration could be postponed depending on wind conditions. Also, the drone shows can run into logistical issues, leading to cancellations.
Executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, Julie Heckman, is also skeptical that the shows could satisfy audiences the same way that fireworks can.
"I don't think a drone display is going to make people 'ooh and ah'... There's a real thrill in being able to light your own fireworks. When they introduced lasers, it didn't take away from the firework experience at all."
However for areas that had to cancel fireworks due to fire advisories, drone shows could be a great alternative. Whether they'll be introduced in cities that don't have worries about fire safety remains to be seen.

Intel has made its mark in the drone show sector, by heading large-scale drone shows that have been broadcast on national TV. In addition to their work on the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics drone shows, Intel recently had an LGBTQ-themed show at their Folsom, California, campus on June 23.