Love going to the orchestra for movie theme song night? Here's a high-tech, aerial version using nine pre-programmed "quadrotors."
Developed by researchers in the GRASP lab the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science, the robot quadrotors made their musical debut at the TED2012 Conference in Long Beach, Calif., on Feb. 29. Watch the robotic orchestra play James Bond's theme song, which already has more than 847,000 YouTube hits:
As you can see, the robots play various instruments including a keyboard, drums, maracas and a cymbal. The doctoral students who created the quadrotors, Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger, describe how they even made an "adapted guitar built from a couch frame" that the quadrotors played by hitting the strings as they flew over with a stiff wire. The quadrotors' performance was autonomous with each robot being programmed with its role beforehand.
MSNBC reports that Vijay Kumar, the UPenn advisor for Kushleyev and Mellinger, also presented a new robot at the conference. This one uses a camera and laser scanner to map its surroundings, according to MSNBC, which is unlike the quadroters that only use a camera. The quadroters also need a camera to know where they are, whereas this new robot doesn't. Kumar said that the use for such technology could be to create a map of a building or area outside of the lab setting without things like GPS. Learn more about that robot starting at 11:57 in this video at the conference: