A Christmas-themed drone light show organized Sunday night to “wow the people” of Perth, Australia, left onlookers suitably stunned as drones kept tumbling out of the sky and into the river below throughout the performance. “I did cry a little bit last night. I am trying not to think about it… but it was an expensive show for us,” the boss of the company behind the show said after the unprecedented fail.
Almost 50 drones, worth about $2,000 each, descended into Perth’s Swan River during a 10-minute performance arranged by Australian firm Drone Sky Show. Thankfully, nobody was reported hurt in the incident because Civil Aviation Safety Authority safety protocols were observed, and the organizers had set up a 120-meter-wide exclusion zone between the drones and the spectators.
Joshua Van Ross, managing director of Drone Sky Show, told a local media outlet that one in every 10 drones in the 500-strong light show malfunctioned. And that’s something he has never seen happen before, he said. Here’s Van Ross:
We’re looking into GPS interference to see what has gone wrong. If there is any wind interference drones do hit each other, that does happen, propellers snap, there are things that go wrong… two to three drones [falling] per show is actually normal… last night was not normal.
Van Ross estimates that his company has lost almost $100,000 worth of drones in the incident. An investigation is now underway to determine the cause of the failure because more shows are planned for the future, with the next one scheduled to happen as soon as New Year’s Eve.
City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempila was quick to point out that the previous show by the company, which was executed on Saturday night, was “a spectacular and flawless success.” Zempila said:
Of course I accept that the drone show on Sunday night fell short of expectation, and that was, as I understand, because of technical issues… things can go wrong with technology of this kind. [But] the drones that fell fell into the river and nowhere near people. There is a reason why there is such a strict enforcement of the safety zone around this technology.
Video of drone light show fail in Australia
According to media reports, divers were attempting to retrieve the fallen drones on Monday.