Look out Manchester - the robots are coming!


The organisers of an exciting new interactive project which has been launched in Manchester are appealing for volunteers to take part.

The Robot Orchestra initiative aims to create an environmentally-friendly orchestra made up of ‘robots’ playing instruments and recycled materials, and people are being encouraged to get involved by salvaging and donating unused technology, building the robots and the instruments, writing computer codes, hosting events or sharing their musical expertise.

Manchester has always been a hotbed of innovation - from the very first computer to the splitting of the atom, the city has a proud history of brilliant discoveries. In 2016, it has stepped into the global scientific spotlight as European City of Science – the first time this has been awarded to a British city – which is a chance to showcase the groundbreaking science and cutting-edge industry of today. People across the city are being encouraged to take part in an array of exciting experiments and activities, bringing science, technology and engineering to life – and the Robot Orchestra is an important part of this.

The orchestra will consist of ‘electronic brains’ which create music by playing real instruments including violins, glockenspiels and xylophones, as well as redundant technology such as computer floppy disk drives and old desk fans which will make sounds themselves. These will all be conducted by a robot designed by Siemens.

The organisers hope to showcase work by everyone - from 5-year old primary school children to pensioners who have been tinkering away in their garages - to demonstrate that everyone can discover the secret engineer inside themselves.

The Hallé Orchestra has composed a piece of music for the robots to play, and lots of independent composers are also writing pieces. The organisers are also hoping to bring Manchester-based artists on board, enabling the orchestra to have a truly local feel.

“I want to show how everyone can discover the secret engineer inside themselves - and build an amazing machine from their imagination. A new musical engineering revolution has begun. I want to showcase the ingenuity, creativity and revolutionary spirit of the people of Manchester, and to explore how a city might creatively re-engineer and spread environmental and creative practices through performance.”
Professor Danielle George

Rehearsals are currently taking place to ensure that all of the robots connect to the conductor and perform as a cohesive unit, instead of playing randomly. The orchestra will give its full debut performance in July, during the Euroscience Open Forum - Europe’s largest science conference.

If you want to get involved, please visit the website at, where you also can sign up to the mailing list to receive news and updates. You can also follow the hashtag #robotsarecoming on Twitter, or follow Danielle @EngineerDG.

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