Behind the scenes: how the iFood drone show is done

To innovate in the Christmas festivities, iFood holds a drone show in Ibirapuera Park. Discover how robots perform the choreography without missing a step.

With a lot of technology, more than 100 drones participate in the Christmas air show in Ibirapuera (SP)

In December, Ibirapuera Park, in São Paulo, hosted a different Christmas spectacle: a free drone show, carried out by iFood on the nights of 11, 12, 18 and 19/12. In the air, 100 drones form images that symbolize Christmas wishes, such as love, happiness and peace. But how does this illuminated ballet of drones come to life?

It all starts with creating a choreography, which is a script of the movements that the drones must make in the air. “The drone, in fact, is a robot that carries an LED and has to be positioned in space to light up at the right time and place”, explains Alexis Evangelos Anastasiou, founder of Visualfarm, the art, technology and design studio responsible for the show of iFood drones.

The next step is to make a storyboard, with drawings that illustrate, frame by frame, what the show will be like, connecting all its elements. In the Ibirapuera show, the movements were designed to synchronize the lights with the soundtrack and even the water curtain of the park's lake.

Afterwards, this choreography is programmed into the computer so that, at show time, each drone automatically follows its paths and turns on the correct color light (they are not the type that are piloted manually).

These show drones are made specifically for air shows and are very different from the robots that iFood tests to make deliveries. The ones used at the show are manufactured in Brazil by Visualfarm and are a little smaller than the ones delivered — they are 50 cm and weigh 1.3 kg (with the battery).

More than 40 people were involved in the conception and production of the Ibirapuera show, which took around a month. “It's intense work, because to make these two flights, many others were made, outside of São Paulo, in the testing and adjustment phases.”

In preparation for the show, a structure is set up with a WiFi network, a radio network and a local GPS network to position the drones in the air according to the programmed choreography. On the ground, a team of 12 professionals takes charge of the show.

To avoid surprises in the air, all drones are tested before the show. “The safety procedure is very complex and involves testing and alignment on the ground. Drones that are not 100% stable are replaced before the show starts,” explains Alexis.

But drones are not just protagonists of shows. Other drone model is also becoming a reality in meal delivery via iFood. In 2021, the foodtech became the first company in Latin America to obtain regulatory approval to test drone food delivery routes. With authorization from Anac (National Civil Aviation Agency), iFood has been testing drone delivery in Campinas (SP) and Aracaju (SE) in partnership with Speedbird Aero.

Drone Show at Ibirapuera Park
Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral, s/n
Dates: December 18th and 19th, at 8:30 pm (dates and times are subject to change, depending on weather conditions)

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