TED2012: Robot quadcopters perform James Bond theme

[Video Link] I imagine OK Go will be giving these guys a call soon!

Quadrotors designed and built at the University of Pennsylvania 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.

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.
More information


  1. Many times in Science Fiction I’ve seen a swarm of tiny robots go to work on something all moving in coordinated chaos and it’s always given me a weird feeling of unease. Like I was viewing an alien life form even though it’s robotic.

    This is the first time robots in real life have given me that feeling.

  2. Watching the ones bounce up and down (for the keyboard) looks almost too fluid to be real, like CGI, but I guess that might be the uncanny valley effect in reverse.

Comments are closed.