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Super Bowl Halftime Drones Weren’t Live

 By: Nick Gambino

Lady Gaga’s performance at Super Bowl 51 was pretty amazing from her aerial descent from the top of the stadium to the stage to her perfectly executed choreography (including some beautifully nostalgic Madonna moves).

But one thing that really stood out was the light show in the sky. Little lights formed to show different images including the Pepsi logo, the Intel logo and of course the American flag. A lot of us were watching but it wasn’t until it was revealed that each light was a drone that we were truly impressed.

The technology and coordination that goes into something like that is pretty intense. Hundreds of small lit-up drones flying into various positions at just the right time to form images – that’s no small feat.

Now it’s been revealed to The Verge that the drone part of the Super Bowl’s halftime show wasn’t actually live though it was made to seem so. That means any time you saw the drones including Lady Gaga’s intro performance of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” before jumping off the top of the football stadium, was pre-recorded.

Now before you feel slighted, it wasn’t so much a cop out by those behind the drones as it was a legal issue. The FAA forbid drones from flying within a radius of 35 miles from the stadium during the Super Bowl. There are obviously risks involved with hundreds of flying robots whizzing around performing various maneuvers directly above hundreds of thousands of people.

So it’s not that you were fooled as they did actually perform those maneuvers and those light tricks with flying drones. It’s just that it was several days earlier. Hey better than someone getting impaled by a robot when they’re just trying to enjoy a hot dog.

Though with the should-have-been-impossible comeback that Tom Brady and the Patriots pulled off overcoming a 25-point deficit in the 4th quarter resulting in a historic win in overtime, somehow I don’t think the drones’ light show was the most talked about moment of the night.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.

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