Can a robot replace Ed Sheeran?

Posted by Danielle George | Mon, 24 Jul 2017

One of the projects I lead is the Robot Orchestra.

The Robot Orchestra  encourages young people to do engineering because there are lots of good jobs available in engineering as there is a worldwide shortage of engineers.

People as young as 7 years old learn computer coding and recycle things to make a robot instrument.   Coding and making is engineering!   The robot instruments are connected together by a robotic conductor so they all play in time.   It shows young people how engineering is creative and fun and that they can do it!

Young people have also written music for the Robot Orchestra to play.  Some musicians have written pieces too including Brighter Sound band ‘Family Ranks’, hip hop singer LayFullStop and the Halle orchestra.  You can see a clip from the Manchester Science Festival at: https://youtu.be/9v1Jr8TDo0A

Over the last year the Robot Orchestra has toured the UK with my ‘Hack Your Home: A New Revolution’ tour.

The Robot Orchestra was recently invited to the BBCs Maida Vale studios in London to record a BBC iPlayer documentary ‘Can a robot replace Ed Sheeran?’  Ed Sheeran’s manager sent the midi file to us so the music could be coded up for the Robot Orchestra to play.  At this point even the robots were excited!   It is presented by Greg James from Radio 1 and features Noel Sharkey from Robot Wars who is a Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.  You can watch the documentary here:
Can a Robot Replace Ed Sheeran? http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04sxvgw and hear from some of the students working on the project: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/55sKXKxMjBb9jdVyRgJXM72/could-a-robot-replace-ed-sheeran

Robot Orchestra making kits will soon be available so you can have a go at making your own robot instrument.  To find out more about them please email: robotsarecoming:@manchester.ac.uk or check out www.robotorchestra.co.uk

To find out what the Robot Orchestra is doing next follow the Robot Orchestra on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robotsarecoming/ and Twitter: http://twitter.com/robotsmcr (@robotsmcr)

Author Biography

Danielle George is a Professor in Microwave Communication Engineering and is the Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Danielle completed her BSc in Astrophysics and MSc in Radio Astronomy at The Victoria University of Manchester based at Jodrell Bank Observatory. During her MSc studies Danielle realised her passion for practical based experiments and started to work at JBO as an RF engineer directly after her MSc studies. She has a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and worked at JBO as a senior microwave engineer until 2006 where she took up a lectureship post in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

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