Drones at Coachella: Why were they there?

Categories: Festivals
Drones_Coachella_Timothy_Norris.jpg
Photo by Timothy Norris

Remember an April Fool's post earlier this month, about drones at Coachella? Well, it turns out it was prophetic. Those hovering propeller-powered crafts have indeed arrived at Coachella.

They could be spotted this year floating surreptitiously above the crowds, during performances by MGMT, Outkast and others. So what's the deal?

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Photo by Timothy Norris

Don't worry, these drones weren't searching for your drugs.

It turns out that festival organizers teamed up with a couple of aerial robotics firms for assistance with their YouTube live stream footage.

But that's not all: German tech firm Festo unleashed their Smart Bird drone upon the crowds during weekend two as part of a festival art installation -- it was outfitted to look like a seagull, flapping its "wings" as it flew.

Most of the drones, however, have a more practical purpose. The bug-like camera bots you may have spotted looming near stage fronts are the work of L.A. based aerial cinematography specialists Drone Dudes. They helped provide aerial coverage of sets at the main stage and inside the Sahara tent, giving a bird's eye view of performances from folks like Kid Cudi and Carnage -- as well as crowd shots.

Coachella bans attendees from bringing in their own drones, but some got them in anyway, posting footage taken by GoPro drones on social media sites.

In any case, you're not alone if you found the drones a bit creepy. We realize that the festival is being photographed constantly by live human beings, but it's hard to shake Big Brother vibes when you know you're under the gaze of a hovering automaton.

With security at the festival tighter than ever - including hidden surveillance systems monitoring chips in attendees' wristbands -- it's not hard to imagine drones being employed for security purposes. And when people are dying it's hard to argue against that.

But there has to be a way to balance safety and privacy, and unleashing drones upon the masses seems like a ham-fisted way to go about it.

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15 comments
John Bunch
John Bunch

Who are the people who go to this? Are they unemployed?

Jenna Waldrop
Jenna Waldrop

They're obviously trying to desensitize the drones cuz they're about to be everywhere

Susannah Kasson
Susannah Kasson

Did I miss something..??.. Was coachella in mpls..??.. Enough about it already.. Jeez..

btwftw
btwftw

Flying sharks!? we're all fucked!

Roy Lovejoy
Roy Lovejoy

Probably photo/ video drones like they had on the Shiprocked Cruise. Makes for pretty cool aerial crowd shot pics.

Matthew Martin
Matthew Martin

Looks like the only thing that noticed was the "flying shark".

Amy Rayburn
Amy Rayburn

NO MORE! Don't you have a bad EDM show to cover or something?

Louie Lu Lettuce
Louie Lu Lettuce

Perhaps they were in search of CPM writers in order to take them out for their horrible article.

Julie Daily
Julie Daily

I don't really care as I am so over these posts from coachella.

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