Firefly organizes drone show contest

Is it your dream to make several drones dance simultaneously at your beck and call? From May 13, this will be possible with a web app developed by honors team Firefly. Design a beautiful choreography on their website, and perhaps it will be performed, put on film and published on YouTube.

photo Iris Camps

It had always been honors-team Firefly’s goal to put on a show with drones, light and music, but that goal is more realistic this year than last year, when the first Firefly team failed to put on an extended show during light festival GLOW. Now, the (partially) new Firefly team is going to interact with the audience. Who will design an interesting path for a maximum of three drones?

“The composition of the TU/e Honors Academy teams changes each year because third-year students leave and new second-year students join the team. The team needs to adjust its goal each year as well in order to remain innovative,” says Iris Camps, general team manager of Firefly. “We had many options this year. We had the opportunity to participate in Robot Love, try GLOW again, give a show at an office party in Italy, and even to go to an event in Nepal.”


But experience had taught Firefly that it is important to focus on just one thing and make sure you do that well. “Too many things weren’t quite right last year. The drone was ten centimeters of in precision, which means it didn’t fly accurately. This year, our basis package is completely in order. We bought an OptiTrack positioning system which makes sure the drone has a positional error of no more than a millimeter, which is the same at the thickness of a piece of paper,” says team member Thomas Wagenaar, who mostly concerns himself with the technique of the drones.

Read on below the photo.

Currently, it is possible to put up a show with three drones provided by Avular. Firefly wants to involve the audience. The team came up with a contest that TU/e staff and students can take part in, in groups or independently. The assignment is to come up with a choreography for a few drones. It’s not necessary to own a drone yourself, you can use the web app developed by Firefly. “If you read the manual and know how to use a computer mouse, you should be able to manage,” says Sara Polak, the other general manager of the team which consists of sixteen members.

Coach Duarte Antunes points out that what makes the project so innovative, is the fact that everyone gets to design their own show. “There are a number of wonderful drone shows, but their design was made by someone else, the audience has no say in it. We allow the audience the experience of designing a show.”


Sara says that electronic dance music is perfectly suited. “The change of rhythm and pitch in dance allows you to do some nice things.”

The contest will last three weeks. From May 13, people can take part at Team Firefly will pick a winner each week and at the end of the contest, an external jury will select the most beautiful of these three dances. The jury will look at the fluency of the drones' movements, the creativity, and it will judge whether the dance suits the music. The selected choreographies will be turned into a clip and published on YouTube. This will give the general audience the opportunity to cast their vote, which the jury will take into account. The main prize is a travel cheque worth 250 euros.

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