In what’s got to be one of the least-likely applications of robotic flight, the University of Pennsylvania’s quadrotors play the James Bond theme (direct link):
From the YouTube writeup:
Flying robot quadrotors perform the James Bond Theme by playing various instruments including the keyboard, drums and maracas, a cymbal, and the debut of an adapted guitar built from a couch frame. The quadrotors play this “couch guitar” by flying over guitar strings stretched across a couch frame; plucking the strings with a stiff wire attached to the base of the quadrotor. A special microphone attached to the frame records the notes made by the “couch guitar”.
These flying quadrotors are completely autonomous, meaning humans are not controlling them; rather they are controlled by a computer programed with instructions to play the instruments. [Note: this is a pretty loose definition of “autonomous,” normally it would mean that any computing power would be hosted onboard the quadrotors themselves]
Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to some of the most innovative robotics research on the planet, much of it coming out of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab.
This video premiered at the TED2012 Conference in Long Beach, California on February 29, 2012. Deputy Dean for Education and GRASP lab member Vijay Kumar presented some of this groundbreaking work at the TED2012 conference, an international gathering of people and ideas from technology, entertainment, and design.
The engineers from Penn, Daniel Mellinger and Alex Kushleyev, have formed a company called KMel Robotics that will design and market these quadrotors.
More information: http://www.upenn.edu/spotlights/penn-quadrotors-ted