For a long time, fireworks have remained a constant in public occasions such as the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve celebrations. It is a great way for friends, family, and the public to come together and watch the glorious display; a tradition that has been practiced all over the world.
However, the future of fireworks looks bleak, if the latest trends are anything to go by. In the last couple of years, drone light shows have started to feature at big public spectacles where we had become accustomed to fireworks.
For instance, drone light displays were used at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Pyeongchang games, as well as the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show. Let’s not forget Beyonce’s iconic performance at Coachella where drones made an appearance.
So what does this new development mean to the future use of fireworks? Could we possibly be witnessing a gradual paradigm shift?
Why are we moving towards Drone Light Shows?
They are Safer
While fireworks remain a billion-dollar industry, several states have passed legislation to totally ban public lighting of fireworks whereas others restrict the use to non-aerial fireworks. So why would they want to forego all the profits?
Let’s face it, as much fun and adventurous as fireworks are, they can also be very dangerous! In the U.S alone, there were almost 11, 000 fireworks-related injuries that included everything from serious burns and blowing off of hands to some people even going blind.
In the worst-case scenario, four people succumbed to their injuries; which goes to show just how fatal these things can be if not used safely. The thing with public fireworks is that something tends to go haywire when you least expect.
In 2012, during a public display in Scotland, a firework was erroneously fired into the remaining stash, leading to a freak fire accident. Even though most people managed to come out unscathed, one young girl, unfortunately, suffered burns to her face. This serves as a reminder of the danger posed by fireworks.
Just go to YouTube and search for “Fireworks Fails” videos, you’ll be surprised by just how abundant and extreme these public spectacles can turn out to be in a flash. From shooting into crowds to starting house fires and even forest infernos; this is enough to concern the authorities.
When it comes to drone light shows, there is no compromise to public safety that has been experienced with lighting fireworks. And even if one of the drones happens to spin out of control, the magnitude of the “incident”, if any, could hardly be compared to a fireworks display accident.
It’s true that drones create an entirely new experience as far as light shows are concerned. They can be synced to form amazing patterns and tell digital stories in the night sky. Not to mention that they can smoothly be integrated into a musical performance.
And yes…they are also environmentally friendly!
They are Cheaper
The stable growth of the drone industry means that drones are becoming cheaper by the day. That’s why blue chip companies like Intel are at the forefront of popularizing this new digital experience…remember their otherworldly exhibition at the Olympics?
Each of the drone used during the Intel Olympic show weighed less than a volleyball and included cheap materials like flexible plastic and foam in their construction. The drone’s propellers are further protected by covered cages to ensure that the device is safe to fly even in the rain.
Unlike fireworks, drones can be reused hundreds of times. So once you have a fleet of your own, all there is to do is maintain them properly to keep on exhibiting the light shows for a long time.
The 3D printing industry has also made it possible for 3D printed modifications to be made on these drones. You can easily create 3D printed parts and other accessories to replace missing components or fully customize your drones. A city can also rent drones for one-off events to eliminate the cost of acquiring the drones.
By comparison, fireworks tend to be a one-and-done kind of deal and they don’t come cheap. The Sydney Harbor Bridge New Year’s Day fireworks display, though spectacular, cost the Australians around $5.2million. This is not a small figure, especially when you consider that the show only lasted 12 minutes!
Drones don’t create that “Fireworks Magic”
Even as we come to terms with the fact that these could be the sunset years of fireworks displays, I’m not sure that the drone light shows will be able to come close to the fireworks atmosphere.
There’s something about that resounding boom that reverberates when fireworks explode, the cacophony of colors, and the smell of gun powder that comes with it.