A major drone light show in China ended with some of the drones descending into the audience. The descents appeared controlled, but we can’t imagine why they would be intentional.

Fairly recently, we wrote about a drone light show where some of the drones fell from the sky. On July 16, at another big drone light show in China, some of the drones descended into the crowd, where they were grabbed immediately by onlookers.

It is, to say the least, a strange story.

Beer festival drone light show

The incident happened during a major beer festival in China involving Tsingtao, one of the country’s largest breweries. We used to live in China (well, not all of the DroneDJ staff, but I did), and we can confirm for the record that Tsingtao makes pretty good beer.

But that’s not why we’re here. The impetus for this story was a post by @Kanzhaji, who runs a website about drone news and posts in Chinese.

Twitter

@Kanzhaji posted about the incident on Twitter, linking to a fuller post on his website. Here’s the Tweet:

The image shows people reaching to grab drones as they come down during a 1,000-drone light show. The Tweet also links to his post about the subject.

What went wrong?

With the help of Google Translate, we were able to extract the following from his post. We’ve cleaned up a few of the errors that came with the Google translation, but this is pretty much what it said:

At the opening ceremony of the Tsingtao Beer Festival on the evening of the 16th, 1,000 drones were used for a light formation performance. However, some of the performance drones accidentally fell, causing tourists to loot, and some drones injured some tourists.

We can’t embed the video from his post, but we encourage you to click through to his site and watch it here. Whatever happened, it’s pretty weird.

Whaaaaaat?

So that was strange enough. But then @Kanzhaji posted an update. Organizers told him it was deliberate:

Beer City currently responds: it has been retracted, and it is not considered a mistake.

Wait a minute. The organizers of a drone light show would deliberately lower drones into a crowd, with rotors whirring? We can’t see it.

Yes, it would be cool if some people wanted souvenirs. But the potential for injury (and he did say some people were injured) has huge liability implications. Yes, drones used in these shows are often light, but they’re still spinning props that could cut fingers. Why would anyone risk this?

Quite simply, they wouldn’t. And what use would one of these drones be to anyone? These drone light shows are controlled by central systems with specialized software and not handheld controllers. So the drones would be useless, other than as a keepsake, for those who picked them up.

Auto-landing?

The descents look pretty controlled – not the kind of wild failure you’ll see in a moment. So they appear, perhaps, to be auto-landing. Might they simply be low on power and programmed for this action?

Possibly. But you’d think the software would include a Return To Home feature to avoid the risk they might come into contact with people.

Earlier drone light show fail

Remember when we said a light show less than a month ago had a problem? That was even more dramatic, and here it is:

Source: Kanzhaji.com

DroneDJ’s take

This is the second incident in less than a month where drones came down unexpectedly in China during a drone light show. These shows take place frequently, particularly in China.

In the video above, it’s clear something went very wrong. We’re only speculating, but one has to wonder – given the growth of drone countermeasure technology if someone was deliberately messing with the light show by interfering with the Command and Control link. It’s certainly not impossible, and you can imagine a scenario where a competitor (particularly if the show was put on by a drone company) might think it could gain by causing a failure.

The truth is, your guess is as good as ours, but clearly, whatever happened here was pretty unusual.

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