Some cities in the western United States have reportedly cancelled their Fourth of July fireworks celebrations due to fears of more wildfires.
Western states like California, Arizona and Colorado are ripe for wildfires right now, due to the dry climate and unrelenting heat. According to a report by CNN, many cities reasoned that it was simply too risky to set off fireworks this year under these conditions.
Thankfully, a suitable replacement has presented itself in the form of new drone technologies. Many firework shows will instead consist of swarms of small drones adorned with LED lights, creating a similar spectacle in the sky without any of the danger.
The drones being used for these shows were reportedly made by Intel. They are comprised mostly of a large LED light, which is affixed to the propellers and sensors that make up a drone. Each of the individual crafts is linked to one central computer, which controls their movements to create the synchronized air show. According to a report by Arizona CNN affiliate KTXL, the program relies heavily on GPS, which is so sensitive that it can keep the drones from colliding in mid-air.
So far, the towns of Carefree and Cave Creek in Arizona have already committed to the "drone shows." Each will use 30 drones in coordination to dazzle residents. Meanwhile, 60 drones have reportedly been custom-made in Aspen, Colorado, where thousands of people were expected to turn out for the fireworks. The city was clamoring for some kind of celebration after poor conditions cancelled the fireworks show last year.
"In a beautiful resort town like Aspen -- where people have been coming for the Fourth of July for years -- it's a special feeling, and to end with fireworks really solidifies that," said Deb Braun, head of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.
The drones are a marvel of simplicity and efficiency in design. Each one weights less than a pound, according to Intel. However, they are equipped to create more than four billion color combinations -- and presumably more when they take to the sky together.
While this will be the first Independence Day to see the novelty drone shows, it won't be their first public appearance. They were heavily featured in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Unfortunately, conditions can put these drones out of commission as easily as fireworks. In areas with high winds, it can become impossible to fly them with little notice.