We've always known that quadrotors had a penchant for putting on shows, but this seriously takes the robot cake. A swarm of quadrotors performed at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, and it's absolutely mind-blowing.
I should preface this video by letting you know that it involves swarms of flying robots, as opposed to lights on strings, but for quadrotor enthusiasts, the sound at the beginning is a dead giveaway. Also, it may start off a little bit slow, but it gets super trippy after a few minutes:
The first 2:30 of the video involves the pyramid talking to you in a sultry voice about how this is the opening ceremony for the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors' Showcase at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Apparently, Saatchi & Saatchi is famous for its opening theatrics, and this year, they hired KMel Robotics to work its magic with a swarm of quadrotors, with creative direction from Marshmallow Laser Feast.
KMel Robotics was founded late last year by Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger, both graduates of UPenn's GRASP Lab, to "push the limits of experimental robotics," and as far as we know (and we don't know that much about KMel), this is it first major project. There isn't a lot of information outside of the video, but we did spot a Vicon system up above the stage, which explains how the quadrotors were able to move so precisely.
This performance reminds us more than a little bit of MIT's Flyfire concept, which (had it actually existed) would have created displays using swarms of very small flying robots equipped with LED "pixels." KMel is doing something very similar, albeit on a different scale, and we can't wait to see what it comes up with next.
*I stole the "mind-blowing" headline from here, because honestly, what the heck else do you call something like this?
Evan Ackerman is the senior writer for IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, Automaton. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and emerging technology, covering conferences and events on every single continent except Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and South America (although he remains optimistic). In addition to Spectrum, Evan’s work has appeared in a variety of other online publications including Gizmodo and Slate, and you may have heard him on NPR’s Science Friday or the BBC World Service if you were listening at just the right time. Evan has an undergraduate degree in Martian geology, which he almost never gets to use, and still wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. In his spare time, he enjoys scuba diving, rehabilitating injured raptors, and playing bagpipes excellently.