Metallica Micro Drones

Micro Drones Buzz over Metallica Show

Admin Flex Air News, UAV Drones

Metallica has kicked off its European World Wired tour with something spectacular to keep fans entertained: Micro drones!

Over 15,000 people packed into the sold-out Royal Arena in Copenhagen over the weekend. They were met with quite a spectacle when the band started to play one of their hit singles, “Moth In Flame.” Dozens of micro drones flew over the stage and began circling above the band.

More and more drones would join the fiasco onstage as the music built up. Soon, the little drones began an aerial dance of complex patterns and shapes. It all led up to the drones forming three interlocking rings and circling overhead. The crowd was overjoyed at the sight.

This marked the first time an autonomous drone swarm has performed for a live touring act. Aerial drone performances have been done in the past, but never to this degree. This drone show featured indoor micro drones buzzing over live performers and a large audience. Shows of the past have all been outdoors. A show like this occurring inside is a stunning spectacle to behold.

Metallica’s touring stage is set up to be viewed from 360 degrees. Three-dimensional sculptures created by adding in micro drones enhances the overall experience from an audience member’s point of view.

Operating drones this close to people and also indoors is quite a challenge. Conventional, outdoor drones use GPS signals to navigate. Indoor drones cannot utilize this feature due to the poor GPS signal at indoor locations. There is also a lot of pressure on the operators to not cause any accidents. Anything can happen in a live show that may offset the drone sensors or cause issues.

Verity Studios is the company responsible for the Metallica drone show. Founder Raffaello D’Andrea said, “It’s all about safety and reliability first.” D’Andrea has a lot of experience when it comes to autonomous robotic systems. He is the former owner of a robotics company that was bought by Amazon in 2012 for $775 million. This company is now known as Amazon Robotics and operates 10,000 robots in one warehouse.

To understand how a drone show such as this one works, one must first understand what an automation system is. Using sophisticated algorithms, robotics, and distributed A 1, engineers are able to program a show like this with incredible accuracy. Verity Studios has orchestrated over 7,000 autonomous aerial shows on Broadway using the Stage Flyer drones. These drones are larger and have been featured in 398 live performances.

The drones used in Metallica’s live performance are autonomous. This means that they are supervised by a person, but that the operator is not managing the movements of the drone individually. The drone operator initiates takeoff and the landing command. He or she is also responsible for monitoring the constant motions of the drones and must respond quickly to any anomalies. Essentially, the drones are piloting themselves under the supervision of a human operator. The motions, patterns, and lighting designs for this swarm of drones have all been created and choreographed by Verity’s team of creative minds.

Pilot errors have been the cause of dozens of drone accidents at live events. The number one issue with safety when operating any kind of drone is human error. Verity has taken this into account and has engineered their drones for safety even with regards to other potential issues such as wireless interference, failure in hardware or software components, hacking attempts, and even power outages. So far, Verity’s drones have a 99.7% success rate.

Metallica has taken advantage of this booming technology for their first world tour in six years. Their shows will continue throughout Europe until May 2018.