Listen to this piano-playing robot hit all the right notes

Published by Jan Heaney on

Listen to this piano-playing robot hit all the right notes

Robots are steadily improving at many tasks, and even outdoing humans at some of them. But they’re still incredibly clumsy when it comes to fine motor movements in small small joints, like our hands. Typically, even toddlers can blow the most cutting edge robots out of the water when it comes to incorporating feedback into how we touch, move or grip things. For example, when you get into a new car with a gas pedal more sensitive than your old one, you adjust your foot pressure accordingly. Your brain, your body, and the environment work together to help you determine the right movement and execute it. Researchers wanted to build robots capable of using this three-pronged approach – mind, body, environment – to execute more complex and sensitive movements. So they used 3D printing to create a skeleton-like hand, integrating materials with different flexibilities to simulate the complex arrangement of bones, joints, and ligaments in the human hand. They built several hands with different levels of stiffness in each joint to see what kind of behaviors they could achieve. To test the ability of the skeleton hand to perform challenging mechanical tasks, they had it play piano music in different styles, something that can trip up even the most dexterous of humans. The hand was able to play the piano using the staccato technique with slightly shortened, bouncy notes. It could also play glissando, where you slide smoothly between the notes The researchers analyzed how much force the robot was using and how quickly it was hitting each note, and they found a strong match to the force and timing of a human playing the same pieces. While the skeleton hand did not capture all of the complexities of the human hand, the researchers see it as a step forward in creating robots capable of more complex, nuanced interactions with objects in their environment, by taking advantage of the natural flexibility of the human hand. The hands could be one day be used for a variety of job that require a delicate touch like picking fruit off of trees or feeling for tumors or unusual tissues. But for now, they’ll stick to tickling the ivories, and they might even have a festive song or two up their sleeves.


Georgios Giannoulis · December 19, 2018 at 7:06 pm

AI is coming, get ready for real Westworld

Fabrício Bracht · December 19, 2018 at 7:58 pm

That has nothing to do with AI

NGT · December 19, 2018 at 8:03 pm

Who gives a shit if a robot plays guitar or piano ?

CouchCommander5000 · December 19, 2018 at 9:06 pm

or like hand jobs

Nixter_is_Nick · December 19, 2018 at 9:08 pm

A severed hand could do the same thing.

tubeist- dan · December 19, 2018 at 9:44 pm

2:35 "…hit all the right notes"
I guess I'm tone-deaf then
Science magazine (The prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science publication) is falling on hard days to resort to such clickbait.

Penny Lane · December 19, 2018 at 10:48 pm

I was expecting some superhuman piano skills. Good to know that if the robot apocalypse involves any amount of fine motor control, there's no rush to get into a bunker just yet.

Ion Ymous · December 19, 2018 at 11:53 pm

hmm.. ok. now what… make a robotic hand and throw this thing out?

Alexandria School of Science · December 20, 2018 at 2:28 pm

fake news

Manos · December 20, 2018 at 4:57 pm

You know there's something wrong when even Science starts using clickbaits.

Mark Magill · December 20, 2018 at 11:51 pm


kuldeep · December 21, 2018 at 9:02 pm

She sound like she just wake up

Just Be GOOD :^) · December 22, 2018 at 9:30 pm

It might be Scarlatti at 1:20? 0:^)
Hoping at the future it will able to play full Toccata of any Scarlatti or even more 🙂 Just imagine: home maestro Rachmaninov plays for you. Like Spotify from your hub, uff…

Thapelo Afrika · January 4, 2019 at 5:06 am

Is this a joke?

Austin Henson · March 28, 2019 at 7:09 am

Finally I'm closer to my dream of robot handy J's

Fleb · August 12, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Detroit: Become Human.

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