Friday night's friendly soccer game of the Matildas, Australia's women's team, saw an unexpected aquatic show at the Docklands. More than a hundred drones, intended to light up the sky with messages of support, malfunctioned and took a nosedive into the Yarra River instead. This technological hiccup happened ahead of the team's warm-up match against France, just before the commencement of the FIFA Women's World Cup.
The Victorian government had earlier issued a media release, highlighting that 500 drones were set to illuminate the sky for a solid ten minutes. However, the plan went awry, turning the supposed spectacle into a premature light show as drones plummeted into the river, captured by numerous onlookers on social media. Despite the malfunction, no injuries were reported, and water Police were present at the scene.
The show was put together by the Australian Traffic Network, an entity well-versed in staging drone shows for events such as the State of Origin and Sydney's Vivid Festival. Vic Lorusso of the Australian Traffic Network reported that about 350 drones did not return post-performance.
He reportedly noted, “The drones, to their credit, did what it was supposed to do when they got into a malfunction or technical glitch, which was to auto-land. Unfortunately, when you're over water, an auto-land is in the water.”
An investigation is underway to determine the reason behind the technical failure. Lorusso emphasized that the safety of spectators was their top priority, and the area beneath the drones was off-limits during the performance. To assist in the investigation, five divers will be deployed on Sunday to retrieve some of the wayward drones from the Yarra River.
As of now, both Football Australia and Victoria Police have been approached for comments, while Parks Victoria refrained from making a statement on the incident.
Despite the hiccup, the incident underscores the need for caution when using drones, even in preplanned performances. The focus now remains on finding out what went wrong to avoid such incidents in the future.
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