Tiny musician robots could benefit soldiers.

Author:Beidel, Eric
Position:Defense Technology Newswire

The military has been ordering handheld robots by the hundreds. The gadgets come outfitted with sensors, are easy to carry and can be thrown into potentially dangerous environments, eliminating the need for troops to risk their lives. What more could the military want?

Try tiny autonomous robots that can fly in different formations and play musical instruments.

University of Pennsylvania researchers have been attracting attention for their work with nano-quadrotor robots. These small rotorcraft are seen in YouTube videos flying around the lab in figure-8 and other formations. One clip shows them hovering around various instruments and then dropping to strike a chord on the guitar or tap a cymbal in a rendition of the James Bond theme. In another video, the robots carry and position small beams to assemble a structure.

The robots can swarm, sense each other and form ad hoc teams for construction, surveying disasters and a variety of...

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