Drone shows are often touted as an environmentally friendly and safe alternative to traditional fireworks. But safety is only relative, as a recent incident in Shanghai shows. During a drone show, dozens of drones suddenly fell down, resulting in several injuries. Although the show took place above water, shipping traffic was not halted.
The drone show in question took place during the annual Dragon Boat Festival on 14 June 2021, in front of Shanghai's famous Bund promenade. In a video shared on social media, thousands of drones can be seen forming a number of Chinese characters in the air. At a certain point, the drones seem to start drifting, after which dozens of planes crash down into the river water.
According to the Chinese website kanzhaji.com, several people were slightly injured and there was also material damage. At the time of the incident, the waterway was not closed and cruise ships even passed underneath the drone show.
It is still unclear what exactly went wrong during the drone show. Various parties involved seem to be pointing fingers at each other. It is speculated that there may have been a disturbance in the GPS signal on which the drones depend for their positioning, and that a number of aircraft then made an emergency stop.