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 ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.