Thousands of drones fill skies above China to create giant running man

High-tech demonstration part of growing trend to find alternatives to fireworks

Anthony Cuthbertson
Thursday 02 January 2020 14:20
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Shanghai welcomes New Year with a drone show

Shanghai shunned traditional firework displays to celebrate the New Year, instead filling the skies with thousands of synchronised drones.

Nearly 2,000 drones flew above China's largest city, creating giant spheres, text, and even a figure of a man that appeared to run across the skyline.

The traditional midnight countdown was also performed by the drone swarm above the Huangpu River in the east of the city.

State-run media outlet CCTV said the running man configuration illustrated "the huge changes and glorious achievements Shanghai has made in the past 40 years of reform and opening up".

It was achieved through vast programming efforts to coordinate the drones, rather than by individual drone pilots.

The display is part of a growing trend to find alternatives to fireworks, which create noise and smoke pollution and can be a fire hazard.

Several Australian cities were forced to cancel firework displays amid the ongoing wildfire crisis that has so far killed half a billion plants and animals in the country.

Sydney's decision to celebrate the New Year with fireworks proved controversial, after more than 250,000 people signed a petition to cancel the famous display.

2,000 drones were used to create the New Year's display in the sky above Shanghai

Shanghai's high-tech drone demonstration also comes amid concerns about China's development of advanced police drones for use in cities.

In November, a Chinese technology firm tested an attack drone designed to carry out street-level surveillance and take out targets.

Developer Tianjin Zhongwei Aerospace Data System Technology said in a report the drones are suitable for "asymmetric combat, counterterrorism and special forces [operations] and street battles".

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