Fireworks Could Fizzle Out As Drones Rise In Popularity For New Year

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: As new year approaches, crowds around the world may be expecting whizzes and bangs to light up the sky. But the appeal of fireworks could fizzle out with the growing use of drones for light shows. One notable example was the opening ceremony of this year's Tokyo Olympics, while the Over the Top NYE event at Reunion Tower in Dallas is among those planning to combine fireworks and drones to welcome 2022. They are also being embraced at a local level: more than 1,000 people watched a drone display at Mercia Marina in Derbyshire to celebrate Bonfire Night this year. Ollie Howitt, the creative coordinator at SkyMagic, which used a fleet of 300 drones to create a display for the mayor of London's new year celebration last year, said demand had increased substantially, something the pandemic has helped accelerate. She added that drones were increasingly able to fly in greater density and for longer. "We do think it's going to be something that's ever evolving, as opposed to it being a short-lived sort of fad that people have suddenly got interested in," she said. Robert Neff, a partner and general manager at Mercia Marina, also believes drone displays will become more common. "There's a big movement against fireworks," he said. Neff said the decision to use a drone display at the marina was down to a number of factors, including the impact of fireworks on animals -- from wildlife and waterfowl to the cats and dogs of boat owners. "They've often commented on how much distress is caused to their pets by the fireworks," he said. Howitt said there were benefits to drones: "They're no emission, they're reusable, there's no fallout or any debris or that kind of thing. So in that sense they are a very good, sustainable option." "Suggestions are that drones have less of an impact on the environment, but we have grave concerns about electrical demand and use of lithium batteries which are known not to be all that 'green,'" said a spokesperson from the British Fireworks Association. "Firework use impact on the environment has been shown to be minor and very short-lived and recent studies have suggested that there is likely to be more pollution from a couple of cars driving to an event than caused by fireworks at an event." Others suggest the use of fireworks and drones are not mutually exclusive. "We find fireworks work really well in tandem with drones. But we don't really see it as a one replacing the other at all. We sort of feel as if it's just another tool in the chest for how you sort of animate the sky and what you want to do with the show that you're putting on," said Howitt, noting that while fireworks give a loud, emotive, big performance, drones offer the chance to tell stories in the sky by using a series of images.

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