June 26, 2012 at 3:45 PM ET
The performance of a flying robot swarm at a creativity festival in France has echoes of the highly-coordinated human theatrics that kicked off the summer Olympics four years ago in Beijing.
The difference here, of course, is that real-life robots, not humans, are the performers.
The robots are quadrotors – helicopters with four rotors. Their coordinated performance, which gets increasingly complex and mesmerizing as the show goes on, was choreographed by KMel Robotics and Marshmallow Laser Feast.
The most recent performance was the opening ceremony for the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.KMel Robotics was founded in late 2011 by Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger, recent graduates of the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab.
The duo is also responsible for this video showing nine quadrotors playing the James Bond theme.
While KMel Robotics promises more information on this project soon, we can surmise a bit more on how they pulled off the performance with a look back at the James Bond playing stunt. Innovation Daily reported:
The secrets to their smooth, graceful movement are their small size, four rotors and smart on-board processor. By moving each rotor at different speeds, the bots can tilt and turn. Their processors decide the swiftest, smoothest path from Point A to Point B, then send out commands to the rotors 600 times a second.
In a swarm, the robots can also monitor where they are compared to their neighbors. It's important that each robot does this by itself, as it would be too difficult to have one central computer controlling each robot as it flies.
When not showing off their artsy side, the machines could find work scoping out dangerous settings such as buildings after an earthquake or a radiation leak.
We’ve also seen a quadrotor that keep people motivated on their daily runs. Maybe there’s an idea in there for the opening ceremony for the summer Olympics this July in London?
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.