KMel's Hexrotors Put on Autonomous Musical Spectacular

A team of flying robots jam on customized musical instruments

1 min read
KMel's Hexrotors Put on Autonomous Musical Spectacular
Photo: KMel Robotics

We love KMel Robotics because they're a fantastic example of how it really is possible to take robots straight out of a research environment and use them to do awesome stuff that also (we assume) is to some extent commercially viable. This is an incredibly hard jump to make for any company, but KMel has done it in style, and their latest performance piece has a large swarm of hexrotors playing (and controlling) a symphony of musical instruments.

Make sure and stick around until the end for the finale on this one.

KMel Robotics presents a team of flying robots that have taken up new instruments to play some fresh songs. The hexrotors create music in ways never seen before, like playing a custom single string guitar hooked up to an electric guitar amp. Drums are hit using a deconstructed piano action. And there are bells. Lots of bells.

Just a reminder about how this all works: each one of these robots has its position measured down to the millimeter (or better) at a very high frequency using an OptiTrack external localization system. The individual hexrotors themselves are being centrally controlled by a computer somewhere else, sort of like a puppeteer system. It takes a lot of coordination and precision to put on a show like this, but as we well know, these KMel guys are pros.

You can catch this performance live, for free, at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. this weekend.

[ KMel Robotics ]

Thanks Daniel!

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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