February 25, 2011 weblog
Toyota's musical robots (w/ Video)
(PhysOrg.com) -- The odds are that when you talk to the average person on the street they will have an opinion on what type of music is good and what type is bad. We tend to think of music as a human thing, but it is really not. The robots have come to the tunes and they are not only enjoying music, they are making it as well.
Robots created by Toyota have learned to play the violin and the trumpet. The robots have been making a series of public performances at the AMLUX building in Tokyo, which is also owned by Toyota. These performances were done side-by-side with human performers on the same stage, with the same instruments.
The bots, which have been dubbed Partner Robots by the company, are putting on a good show, but playing a concerto is not the end goal of these bots. Toyotas final goal is to move these bots into a variety of different business such as healthcare, housework, and manufacturing, though no specific details of when you can expect to have a robot nurse have been given, as this is a long-term plan for the bots. The music is just a way to display and test the complexity of the bots.
Putting the thorny ethical and legal issues of replacing skilled human workers with robots aside, a variety of researchers have looked at the nature of interaction between humans and robots, mostly in relation to dancing, with favorable results. While the bots are unlikely to be working in the near future this is the first step in the path to robots in the home and workplace.
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