How many more major sporting events is Intel going to show up at armed with specialized drones?
The 2017 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest took an unexpected turn this weekend, as NBA forward Aaron Gordon and Intel wowed the crowds with a collaboration that saw the first-ever slam dunk assist from a drone.
Aaron Gordon with the Vince Carter like off the bounce between the legs dunk, with help from the drone. pic.twitter.com/QkkoRHwdxo
— Dunk Contest Dunks ™ (@DunkContest_) February 19, 2017
If you haven’t seen a Dunk Contest before, the premise is pretty simple. This annual competition brings together the NBA’s best four slam dunkers, who have to fight it out to see who can get the best scores from the judges across a number of rounds.
This year Aaron Gordon went the extra mile and incorporated the help of Intel. The tech giant duly provided a drone to set up the shot in the most unique way possible. Sadly for Gordon, the drone stunt wasn’t enough to take the win, as the dunk title went to Glen Robinson III from the Indiana Pacers.
Check out the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Intel’s slam dunk drone.
“When Aaron Gordon approached Intel with the idea to complete the first-ever drone-assisted slam dunk, we couldn’t wait to support him in his quest,” said Anil Nanduri, vice president of Intel’s Drone program.
“Intel is leading and committed to bringing new capabilities and innovations to the drone ecosystem, so obviously our team saw this as an opportunity to do just that. Our goal as a brand is to use technology to create amazing experiences and I can think of no better way to prove that than by working with Aaron on this historic dunk attempt.”
Intel’s bespoke drone was two months in the making. The fully-redundant hexacopter was designed to keep going no matter what, and is resistant to any one single point of failure. Intel’s basketball drone can fly, the company says, for as long as 26 minutes. It weighs in at under 11 pounds and can carry a load of just under 5 pounds.
“I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to do for this year’s contest pretty much since the contest ended last year. I wanted to incorporate technology and do something creative and unique, which is why I was so excited to partner with Intel. Originality for me is key. I wanted to avoid doing anything gimmicky and get back to the creativity of the contest. And what better way to do that than to surprise the crowd with a drone powered by Intel?” – Aaron Gordon
This isn’t the first high-profile exhibition of Intel’s drone technology. At the Super Bowl earlier this month, a swarm of Intel-powered drones illuminated the half-time show with a light display from above. It’s the third time Intel drones have ‘performed’, having previously set world records for the amount of drones in sync flying at the same time.
The tech company has been investing in startups all across the drone industry and is set to become a major player in the coming years. Its most famous contribution to the world of drones to date is probably the Real Sense technology that powers Yuneec’s obstacle avoidance. But it also owns Movidius, the company responsible for developing DJI’s collision avoidance software.