Record broken for world's largest swarm of drones

Tuesday, 24 November, 2020 | Supplied by: u-blox Singapore Pte Ltd

A 10-minute drone show held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in September has broken the world record for the world’s largest flying swarm of drones, with 2198 miniature unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) simultaneously launched into the night sky and at one point forming a flying dove with a wingspan of 600 m, which was visible from 3 km away.

Geoscan, which built and programmed the drones, has been producing drone displays for the past two years, starting with just 40 drones flying at once. The company’s Salute drones, which are just 10 cm across, were designed exclusively for use in group flights and drone shows. Geoscan implemented u-blox positioning technology in the drones due to a combination of accuracy, reliability, performance and ability to access positional data from both the GLONASS and GPS satellite navigation constellations.

u-blox’s NEO-M8P high-precision GNSS modules provide the drones with the positioning data necessary to ensure that they can be placed in the sky with a high degree of accuracy. This makes them less likely to collide with each other and enables them to be moved more quickly and efficiently. The end result is a more fluid drone show, in which the improved positional accuracy of each drone contributes to a better overall display and contiguous figure forms. The drones can also return to their base stations automatically at the end of a show.

The GNSS module used in the Salute drones implements a real-time kinematic (RTK) approach that improves positional accuracy by comparing the phase of a signal being broadcast from a positioning satellite with that of the same signal that has been received and rebroadcast from a fixed base station. The accuracy gained in this way enables drones to calculate their relative positions to within millimetres, and their absolute positions to within 1 cm of the intended position.

“The u-blox modules in our Geoscan Salute drones have improved our drones’ positioning accuracies to about 1 cm, and have helped reduce pre-launch preparation time,” said Semen Lapko, Head of Drone Show Project, Geoscan. “Drones now move more quickly and accurately, while also operating more efficiently.”

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