Dark clouds flashed across the screens. The music gets louder, and the virtual sky widens. Not only clouds, but also screens are moving. They appear to be attached to robots as if they are floating on stage. A powerful image made by the Belgian singer Stromae. The bots make up the musician’s hit show, “Alors on danse,” and are currently touring across Europe with his new album, “Multitude.”
Robots are developed and produced by Coca in Augsburg. “We’ve mostly worked in the events sector, but a project of this scale was also new to us,” says Lorenz Löbermann, Kuka’s Brand Director. The order came in Spring 2021. It took half a year to plan.
Setting up the robot takes three hours
Chief Technology Officer Wolfgang Meyer developed the robots with around 15 employees in Augsburg and Germany Paris. Biggest challenge: quick assembly and disassembly. “We typically develop industrial robots that stand in a hall for several years,” says Löbermann. For the musician’s tour, on the other hand, a construction had to be found that could be moved from one place to another within a day.
It now takes three hours to assemble the robots alone. Five are standing on the stage, and five are hanging from the ceiling. The observers swivel on their arms. The movements are choreographed to match the music, sometimes forming a huge screen, sometimes stretching across the stage like a picture arch or illuminating the musicians from above. You can watch videos, light installations or an avatar dancing in sync with the live model.
The rapid movements of the screens, which weighed several tons and sometimes bumped into each other, posed a technical challenge. “Monitors that carry such weight are not easy to control or turn off suddenly,” says Löbermann. “Our physicists spent a great deal of time fixing this.” A partner of the Kuka System has developed the appropriate software.
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Robots take to the stage at the Coachella Festival in the USA
In the spring of 2022, the robots will appear on stage for the first time in a show in Brussels. Since then, they have traveled the world with Stromae, whose real name is Paul Van Have. Also at Coachella’s Festival United States of Americaone of the most influential music festivals worldwide, they were in action – albeit differently than planned.
Coachella Festival 2022 in pictures
He performed Stromae twice, but the robots only took the stage once. “Because of a sandstorm, they were not prepared. That would have been very dangerous,” says Lubermann. The system partner is responsible for the technical control of the site. Kuka is available in the back office if there are problems with the bots. “But so far everything has worked,” Luberman says.
Also in Germany, Stromae holds two concerts in Berlin and Cologne
Stromae, who mixes elements of hip-hop, electronics, and house, kicked off their European tour in March. Appropriately, post Promotional video on YouTube, which explains the idea of robots and the background of the collaboration with Kuka. Shows 14 Coca employees. As Chief Technology Officer Wolfgang Meyer has his say, he shows his sense of humor. Because in the video, the German art of architecture contrasts with the unconventional world of the Belgian artist. Filming lasted two days, during which time the artist and developer got to know each other. “They were both happy and wanted to take a selfie with each other,” says Löbermann, who can also be seen in the video.
For the Multitude Tour, Kuka not only outfits the stage set up with robots, but also acts as an official partner. In addition to France, Belgium and Switzerland, Great Britain and Italy are also on the agenda. Stromae will also be shown in Germany, in Cologne and Berlin. The ten Kuka robots are also on the stage. By the end of the round, they will have been set up and eliminated over 90 times. Will the collaboration continue after that? In addition to the animated screens, the promotional video also shows robots playing the piano. “There are already some ideas,” says Löbermann.
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