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Robotic rock stars shine at festival

Their mesmerizing movements captivate audiences - whether it's on the web or in person - and they always hit the right note. They are hexrotors: flying robotic rock stars that constitute a mini-orchestra.

At the USA Science and Engineering Festival on April 25 in Washington, crowds gathered around a giant roped-off area to watch the drones perform.

Built by KMel Robotics with support from Lockheed Martin and Intel Corporation, they are programmed for the precise movements needed to play the songs.

The robots aren’t going to replace the Beethovens of the past or the Mozarts of the immediate future, but give it time. In a few decades people could be going to see the latest robotic trio rather than a person.

Before the expo, a teaser video of the robotic flying rock stars received 52,000 views in just two days. It was impressive enough for a quick walk over to see them in person.

The hexrotors use custom single string guitars hooked up to a guitar amp and drums are hit using a deconstructed piano action. Bells are tapped from the top.

The robots themselves look like the helicopters from the movie ‘Avatar,’ with a small antenna shooting up from the top, but they do a great job of performing music. The robots are being used strictly for research, according to one of the assistants at the show.

Though the buzz of their motors is present throughout, the fact that they can play fairly complex pieces of music is impressive. Imagine what they can do with their day job.
 

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