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A look behind the scenes ahead of the Intel Drone 100 flight over Sydney


The drones are about to invade Sydney for Vivid and Tech Guide was able to take a look behind the scenes as Intel’s world record-setting Drone 100 was gearing up for its formation flight over Sydney Harbour.

The Drone 100 will illuminate the sky from June 8-12 at 7.55pm (weather permitting) and fly in a choreographed routine to the sounds of the Sydney Youth Orchestra.

But the seven-minute performance has been a year in the making.

Tech Guide took a trip out to the launch barge positioned in Farm Cove – between the Sydney Opera House and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair – to see how preparations were getting on.

Technicians were flying the drones above the barge as well as testing out the sophisticated control system that will keep the UAVs flying at a short but safe distance from each other.

And while we were there we spoke to Intel’s drone product manager Natalie Cheung about the work that’s gone in to delivering what promises to be a breathtaking experience.

“We’ve been working on this whole process for a little over a year and we’ve been thinking about how do we solve this difficult challenge of having a hundred drones together,” Ms Cheung said.


“Do we have the right landscape? The right windspeed? And the right playing field to take off and land?”

The Intel Drone 100 took to the skies for the first time last year – and set a world record for the most UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) flown at the same time.

“We were in Hamburg in November 2015 and we decided to see how we could push the limit,” Ms Cheung said.


“Let’s try a hundred – it would be amazing if we could have 100 drones – create the Intel logo in the night sky.”

And the Sydney flight of the Drone 100 will be the first to take place over water.

“We wanted to give ourselves another challenge and have the drones take off from a barge and that’s never been done before with a hundred drones,” Ms Cheung says.


Intel has taken a major interest and investment in drone development, according to Intel’s Ms Cheung.

“We think we can change the way that drones are seen in this industry,” she said.

And there will also be some Intel technology onboard the drones that will be flying in formation over Sydney Harbour.

Tech Guide editor Stephen Fenech with Intel's Natalie Leung on the Drone 100 launch barge in Sydney Harbour
Tech Guide editor Stephen Fenech with Intel’s Natalie Leung on the Drone 100 launch barge in Sydney Harbour

“We have different technologies onboard such as our Real Sense camera that can help create collision avoidance solutions for drones,” Ms Cheung said.

“We think we can change what drones are being used for through the Drone 100.”

The launch barge for the Drone 100 in Farm Cove
The launch barge for the Drone 100 in Farm Cove

These uses can include things like:

* Infrastructure inspection and repairs of tall structures, such as bridges and towers

* Bushfire management, inspection and eradication

* Search and rescue, including bush and oceans

* Fast delivery of medicines and medical equipment in emergencies

* Crop inspection across hundreds of hectares of land, including pests and irrigation.

Intel will release a limited number of tickets for each of the five nightly performances to be viewed from the VIP location.


Tickets are free with a maximum of two allocated per person. Details on how to secure these tickets will be shared on Intel’s Drone 100 Facebook page.

The Drone 100 performance is weather-permitting and my not go ahead in the event of rain, storms and high winds. But updates will be posted on the Intel Drone 100 Facebook page.