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Bill Keays



Bill found his way into robotics by way of the visual and performing arts. A MIT Media Lab graduate he has long been pushing new technologies into public spaces and onto the stage seeking to create new and captivating emotional experiences. Following his tenure at Cirque du Soleil as Science and Technology Adviser to the creative core, he is now managing creative projects featuring flying robots at Zurich startup Verity Studios.



Examples of live drone performances (starting top left): Starbright Holiday Drone Show (Intel-Disney), ABB’s 125th Anniversary Celebration (Verity Studios), Meet Your Creator (Saatchi & Saatchi/KMel Robotics (acquired by Qualcomm), Dance with drones on America’s Got Talent (Elevenplay).
Examples of live drone performances (starting top left): Starbright Holiday Drone Show (Intel-Disney), ABB’s 125th Anniversary Celebration (Verity Studios), Meet Your Creator (Saatchi & Saatchi/KMel Robotics) acquired by Qualcomm, Dance with drones on America’s Got Talent (Elevenplay).

Drone shows, such as the ones shown above, are a new and rapidly evolving sector of the entertainment industry.

Photo: Cirque du Soleil - PARAMOUR on Broadway - at the Lyric Theatre. Featuring Flying Machine Design and Choreography by Verity Studios. Pictured: Ruby Lewis as 'Indigo' Ryan Vona as 'Joey'. ©, Cirque du Soleil Theatrical. Photo by: Richard Termine
Photo: Cirque du Soleil – PARAMOUR on Broadway – at the Lyric Theatre. Featuring Flying Machine Design and Choreography by Verity Studios. Pictured: Ruby Lewis as ‘Indigo’ Ryan Vona as ‘Joey’. ©, Cirque du Soleil Theatrical. Photo by: Richard Termine

Since April, a troupe of eight flying machines has been performing in a Cirque du Soleil Broadway show called Paramour. This group of quadcopters has now completed its first 100 shows in front of a live theater audience, without a single incident. Given the string of recent safety incidents with drones (there’s more), this begs the question: How was this accomplished?