In Brief

Flying Robots Play Theme of '2001: A Space Odyssey' (Video)

Still Frame from 'Flying Robot Rockstars'
A still from a video by KMEL Robotics shows flying "hexrotors" playing music on specially modified musical instruments. (Image credit: KMEL Robotics)

In a futuristic symphony that not even Stanley Kubrick may have envisioned, a phalanx of flying robots plays the theme song from the late director's classic film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

The tiny drones play a variety of specially rigged musical instruments — including drums, guitar and keyboard — during their performance of the famous song, a Richard Strauss work called "Also Sprach Zarathustra." The robots then show their versatility, ringing out the holiday tune "Carol of the Bells" and playing the "Star Spangled Banner," among other songs. You can watch the entire four-minute concert here.

"These robots represent a significant technological advancement because of their six propellors; most agile flying robots use only four," video producer and director Kurtis Sensenig told via email. "This may be the first time such a large swarm of hexrotors (named for the number of props) have flown in synchronization."

The flying robots first became famous in 2012 after a video showed them playing the James Bond Theme. The new video, released on Tuesday (April 22), was created by the same crew and represents two more years of technological development, Sensenig said. The flying robots will perform live at the USA Science & Engineering Festival on Saturday and Sunday (April 26 & 27) in Washington, D.C.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.