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Behind the scenes: ‘Can a Robot Replace Ed Sheeran?’

IMAGE: Alison McMurray, RO project manager with the RO crew and RoboSheeran

The Robot Orchestra were invited to get involved in a BBC iPlayer documentary.  After a few phone calls with the production company, the idea for ‘Can a Robot Replace a Pop Star’ was formed.  A few months later we chose Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ for the Robot Orchestra to play and Ed’s manager sent the midi file to us. At this point even the robots were getting excited!

Students, staff and volunteers coded up the robot instruments, we were sent the script and then the production company came to Manchester to film the Robot Orchestra rehearsal who were joined by Radio 1 DJ Greg James and Robot Wars presenter (and Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics) Noel Sharkey.

A couple of weeks later the Robot Orchestra team went to the BBCs iconic Maida Vale Studios in London to film the final performance with a Robot replacing Ed Sheeran amidst colour changing studio lights.  The students were also interviewed for the BBC’s Make It Digital campaign about why they like working on the Robot Orchestra.

It was an amazing day and a once in a lifetime experience for the staff, students, volunteer makers and robots. It was great to hear Greg mention on the show that there are lots of jobs in engineering, as that’s an important part of this project, getting young people to see the opportunities available. We’ve come a long way, but perhaps it’s just the beginning …?  Oh and of course we don’t REALLY want to replace Ed Sheeran, we like him just the way he is!

Watch the documentary here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04sxvgw [available for 12 months]

Tune into Make It Digital to find out how Dan, the maker of Glockobot got on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04w9vbp

Tune into Make It Digital to find out about how Mark, a digital developer, got into Robotics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04w9v9v

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