An AirRobot micro-UAV has played the part of a fairy in a recent performance of Shakespeare's 1594 play A Midsummer Night's Dream. Tthe AirRobot did not have a speaking role; neither did any of the other smaller E-Flight micro-helicopters.
The AirRobot has autonomous self-positioning (like many human actors) as well as self-stabilizing flight management. It's vertical take off and landing capabilities come in handy on the stage and on the battlefield.
(Robots perform Shakespeare)
Purists may balk at reworking one of Shakespeare's most popular plays to include robots, but director Amy Hopper jumped at the chance.
"What's great is that they have been part of the production from the beginning, and the robots seem more and more like characters that have always been part of the story," she said. "To see them flying, spinning and bouncing through the air just adds to the magic and mystery of the world Shakespeare created."
The actors began to develop warm, protective feelings toward the delicate robots. According to Robin Murphy, a computer science and engineering professor at Texas A&M University:
"People's expectations of robots don't match those of roboticists," Murphy said. "When the little robots would crash during rehearsal, the actors would just pick it up and throw it into the air thinking it would fly. We saw the audience do similar things." The rough handling softened, however, when the actors were told to think of the bots as baby fairies. After that, the actors began showing concern if the bots crashed. In other words, they bonded with the machines.