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SkyShows Aerial Limited (SkyShows), which was formed in February 2021 by two highly experienced drone pilots, instructors and examiners, is currently in the final development stage of its offering.

When operational (Spring 2022), SkyShows will design and fly state-of-the-art drone light shows.  These shows will use a swarm of up to 200 drones, each aircraft representing a ‘pixel’ of an animated, ever-changing aerial picture, providing maximum visual impact in the night sky for audiences across the UK.

SkyShows is in the process of securing an Operational Authorisation (OA) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which grants permission to perform anywhere in UK, provided the company adheres to rigorous safety standards. When permission is granted, SkyShows will be the first company in Scotland to hold such authority, placing the company at the forefront this currently untapped market, which is set to become the leading form of night-time aerial entertainment at outdoor events.

The Challenge

Delivering a drone light show requires three key elements: a fleet of drones, software to control them and permission to operate.

SkyShows’ SkyFire Drone

In developing SkyShows, the team conducted extensive research and found that no available drone provided the vital mix of flight endurance, weather tolerance and robustness to cope with UK conditions. Accordingly, in partnership with a UK company, SkyShows has designed and built its own bespoke drone – SkyFire – 200 of which will form their “swarm”.

The company directors are well-versed in securing permission to operate and work in this regard is well-advanced.

SkyShows’ challenge is to develop the swarm management software which defines a flight-path for each of its SkyFire drones and synchronises a lighting programme for the swarm, to make a Drone Light Show possible.

Whilst swarm management software does exist globally, none of it is specifically adapted to the UK environment and, significantly, to the regulations set by the CAA. Existing software is expensive to procure, sub-optimal in terms of compatibility with SkyFire drones and, crucially, unlicensed in the UK.  As the company has done with its drones, SkyShows would like to work with a Challenge Respondent to design, develop and ultimately supply market-leading drone light show software as part of a ‘first of its kind’ drone light show package to be ‘Made in Britain’.

Image credit: SkyShows

Finding a solution to this challenge will place SkyShows at the forefront of this untapped market.  Once Operational Authority has been secured, SkyShows could be franchised across the UK and ultimately across Europe and beyond.


A successful solution would make SkyShows – and their Challenge Respondent partners – market leaders in this burgeoning space in the aerial entertainment business.

SkyShows is very keen to develop a long-term relationship with its Challenge Respondent on the basis that the software developed will be very specific to drone light shows and could be marketed as a ‘holistic’ package under the SkyShows brand.  However, the company is open to a number of options on the configuration of an ongoing relationship.

Given the complexities of this challenge, SkyShows is aware that the whole project may not be achievable within the current budget and the company directors would be willing to explore opportunities for further funding with the chosen Challenge Respondent.

Applications for Challenge Respondents that would like to respond to this Challenge Project are open now and close on Friday 11th February at 5pm.

If you have any questions about this Challenge Project, please contact our team at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.



If you are interested in responding to this challenge please contact the Creative Informatics team.

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