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Dreams of the World: Intel/Disney Drone Lightshow with Anil Nanduri, Vice President of Intel’s UAV Segment

Dreams of the World: One Dream a Time. This post is the latest in the series Dreams of the World, which profiles interesting people Kike meets during his travels.   “Bringing change to the world – when technology or a product I work on becomes a necessity or feels ubiquitous, and the journey to getting there is something I always...

Dreams of the World: One Dream a Time. This post is the latest in the series Dreams of the World, which profiles interesting people Kike meets during his travels.  

“Bringing change to the world – when technology or a product I work on becomes a necessity or feels ubiquitous, and the journey to getting there is something I always dream of,” said Anil Nanduri, Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Segment. Intel’s new UAV division plans to help lead the way in the expanding field of drone technology.

Anil Nanduri . Kike Calvo's Dreams of the World


Nanduri’s work focuses on an advancement of Intel’s Real Sense Technlology, a combination of 2D and infrared cameras that sense the environment around them and help a drone intelligently calculate how to move and avoid obstacles. Intel is also exploring how to control many synchronized drones at once with its 100 Drones Project. Nanduri hopes that his role in the drone industry will help further the field’s enormous potential to use the forces of drone technology for good.

While at Intel, Nanduri has explored chip design, platform enabling, and technical and product marketing. He was chief of staff and technical assistant to the general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group. From 2008 to 2010, Nanduri worked as head of netbook marketing at Intel, promoting netbooks through business strategy and design. Near the beginning of his work at Intel, he directed platform strategy and marketing for Intel’s next-generation mobile platform.

Nanduri’s career stands as an inspiration to many in the younger generation – does he have any advice to share? “You can wait for it to happen or you can drive it to make it happen,” he said. “I have learnt through many big idea projects throughout my career – the difference between success and failure is mostly about people’s willingness to take action towards the solution. But just one person may not be enough to accomplish it; it requires a committed team to drive to success.

Nanduri looks back on the moment in his career he will never forget: the success of the functional chip for the first design project that he ever worked on. The Intel 440MX chipset in 1997-98 worked on the first try. However, Nanduri also holds many moments in his personal life to be equally important. He sees the moment his daughter was born as a turning point in his life.

Nanduri’s trajectory has led him to another one of his current projects: the Intel/Disney Lightshow. The show has made history as the first US lightshow powered by 300 drones. The drones carve through the air in elegant loops, forming 3-dimensional shapes that change and grow as the performance goes on. Intel Shooting Star drones are light, maneuverable, and designed for safety and ease of use. The drone fleet can create over 4 billion color combinations.


Anil Nanduri . Kike Calvo's Dreams of the World
An event 100 drones took to the air over Tornesch, Germany, on the evening of Nov. 4, 2015, to create Drone 100. The elaborate marriage of music and light and flight was the result of months of effort by Intel Corp. engineers and Ars Electronica FutureLab digital artists. Their sky-filling artwork was accompanied by an orchestra on the ground and fully enabled by Intel-powered PCs. All their efforts were rewarded with a Guinness World Records citing for the “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously.” Photo © Intel Corporation


“What we realized is that the Disney team also works with technology is many different ways and we shared very common goals on how we approach execution to a completely new technology which has risks and take the can do it attitude as a team,” said Nanduri. “It was very complementary to the skills we all had. We had experts with the drones and the technology and Disney had the animation and the park experts.”

The light show operation, the software, automation (fleet management) as well as the drone itself is all designed with safety in mind,” he added. The drone itself is very lightweight (280 gms) and has a full propeller cage around the blades for added safety. Each drone used in the light show is constantly monitored, and they follow preprogrammed safety directions, including GPS based safety fences. A pilot is always standing by to step in and manually control the drones should a problem arise.

The software is designed so that the whole show can be controlled by one person. When flying 300 drones, all the software details must be automated beforehand. A team of people program the software beforehand, with the idea of an incredible light show in mind. First, the animators simulate the dimensions of the light show, and let the software help them translate it into drone programming. The end result? A breathtaking nighttime show that hopes to pave the way in the new world of drone-based entertainment.


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Recommended Readings: 

New Holiday Drone Show: 4 Billion Color Combinations will Light Up the Sky

Drones for Conservation: A Field Guide for Photographers, Researchers, Conservationists and Archaeologists. (New Book)

. Top 10 Drones for 2017: The Beginner’s List

So You Want to Fly an FPV Racing Mini Quadcopter?

So You Want to Keep Track of All Your Drone Flights?


Learn More About Drones:

Drone & Pilot sUAV Logbook 

Livin’ the Drone Life: An Insider’s Guide to Flying Drones for Fun and Profit

Remote Pilot Test Prep – UAS: Study & Prepare (Test Prep series)

Become a U.S. Commercial Drone Pilot (Business Series)

DIY Drones for the Evil Genius: Design, Build, and Customize Your Own Drones


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Meet the Author

Author Photo Kike Calvo
Award-winning photographer, journalist, and author Kike Calvo (pronounced key-keh) specializes in culture and environment. He has been on assignment in more than 90 countries, working on stories ranging from belugas in the Arctic to traditional Hmong costumes in Laos. Kike is pioneering in using small unmanned aerial systems to produce aerial photography as art, and as a tool for research and conservation. He is also known for his iconic photographic project, World of Dances, on the intersection of dance, nature, and architecture. His work has been published in National Geographic, New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair, among others. Kike teaches photography workshops and has been a guest lecturer at leading institutions like the School of Visual Arts and Yale University. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic blog Voices. He has authored nine books, including Drones for Conservation; So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?; Staten Island: A Visual Journey to the Lighthouse at the End of the World; and Habitats, with forewords by David Doubilet and Jean-Michel Cousteau. Kike’s images have been exhibited around the world, and are represented by the National Geographic Image Collection. Kike was born in Spain and is based in New York. When he is not on assignment, he is making gazpacho following his grandmother’s Andalusian recipe. You can travel to Colombia with Kike: