By David Ponce
Remember that article from a month ago featuring a swarm of nano quadrotor bots flying around in tight formations? Yeah, as freaky as that was, it looks like they were just getting warmed up. The above video shows what the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception labs have been up to, and it doesn’t bode well for our robotic-apocalypse-free future. They’ve rigged their flying bots to play the James Bonds theme song using instruments. We’re talking keyboard, drums, cymbals, guitar, and maracas here.
Of course, there’s a good likelihood that this all took the team, led by Deputy Dean for Education and GRASP Lab member Vijay Kumar, along with Lab members Daniel Melligner and Alex Kushleyev, an ungodly number of hours to program. So it’s not like you’re likely to wake up to a swarm of bots jamming on your band gear anytime soon. But their goal is to “help scientists and engineers create smarter, faster, and more flexible robots by mimicking the swarming behaviors of birds, fish and insects. Figuring out how to move in unison without crashing into obstacles, or one another, is a critical skill for robot teams to develop, especially since they may one day be used to survey landscapes, build structures… or even play music.” And that, they’ve done.