Forty-eight drones fell from the sky soon after takeoff during a special drone show at the Taiwan Lantern Festival on Saturday night due to electromagnetic interference, the Taichung City Scenic Area Administration said yesterday.
The fallen drones, which were later located at the Taichung City Hou-Zong Senior High School, did not cause any injuries, the administration said.
The show, which was one of the highlights of the festival, featured 800 drones portraying images in the night sky, from a girl drinking bubble tea and the Houfeng bicycle lane to the city’s name written in English.
Photo: Ou Su-mei, Taipei Times
The team controlling the drones detected the interference before the show and tried to resolve the problem, which delayed the show by about five minutes, administration Director Liao Wei-chih (廖偉志) said.
“However, we found that the interference continued after the show began, which caused some of the drones to fall from the sky soon after takeoff,” Liang said in an interview with reporters.
The administration suspects that the interference was caused by other drones flying in the area, Liao said.
It was also possible that some people were using other radio-frequency devices near the venue, which caused interference, he said.
As the show was to be presented again at the festival’s closing ceremony last night if weather permitted, the Taichung City Government said that it asked telecommunication police to help identify the origin of any electromagnetic interference.
The contractor in charge of the show estimated that the crash would cause a loss of about NT$3 million (US$98,674).
Some drone operators told local Chinese-language media that interference could happen if the frequency used by the drones exceeds the frequency assigned to them, which might have caused part of the frequency used by the drones to overlap with that used by other radio-frequency devices.
Strong winds might also have caused the drones to collide and crash, they said.
Others said that the interference could be deliberately produced by drone operators in protest against the government’s new regulations, which are scheduled to take effect on March 31.
Taichung only allows a limited number of fly zones for drone operators, which they said was unreasonable.
Telecommunications police said they can track the origin of unknown signals with detector guns and the National Communications Commission’s telecommunications signal monitoring vehicles.
Such vehicles were used to catch people who tried to cheat in government-administered exams using electronic gadgets, they said.
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