How Joe Biden’s drone light show came together — and what it could mean for the industry: Digital Photography Review

A composite of two of the formations seen in the drone show Saturday, following the announcement that Joe Biden was projected to become the next president of the United States.

This past Saturday, major news outlets announced former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate and senator Kamala Harris as the projected winners of the 2020 presidential election. Biden and Harris addressed the world later that evening with speeches that concluded with a drone and fireworks light show.

The drone show especially excited many in the rapidly-growing industry, after years of negative media coverage and concerns about overregulation. Numerous unconfirmed sightings of drones near airports and aircraft, in addition to rulemaking proposed for Remote ID, reportedly set to be decided by year’s end, are a clear indicator that drones continue to be controversial.

That’s why it’s such a big deal that a formation of drones was used on Saturday night, so close to two people about to become among the most powerful (and most closely-guarded) in the world. After a bit of sleuthing, we were able to confirm that the company responsible for the light show was Verge Aero, based in Pennsylvania.

‘This is the first time drones have flown in such close proximity to a group of people as high profile as Biden and Harris,’ Nils Thorjussen, Verge Aero’s CEO, tells DPReview. ‘While I can’t reveal anything about the processes we took to secure this gig and ensure it went smoothly, having the Secret Service examine all components of our operation, including the software and ground control station, was interesting.’

Drone light shows have been around for several years, but they don’t come cheap. It takes anywhere from fifty to tens of thousands of drones to form illuminated shapes in the sky, and when the cost of setup, plus travel and accommodation for a staff of trained professionals is factored in, they’re typically very expensive.

Mass light shows with hundreds of drones might be beyond the means of most of us, but, says Thorjussen, ‘we’re developing the tools to make drone light shows more accessible.’

He predicts that ‘soon enough, as with other technologies in the past, they’ll become more affordable and mainstream.’ Good news for an industry that all too often is on the wrong side of the headlines.

To learn more about all the components that go into a drone light show, head over to Verge Aero’s blog.

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