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Robot Drum Arm

February 26, 2016

A robotic third arm helps drummers execute previously impossible percussion patterns.

Transcript

Georgia Tech

(Georgia Tech)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Look, Ma! THREE hands! I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[drumming] This drummer has a little something extra – a third arm, playing the ride cymbal. Gil Weinberg at Georgia Tech originally made the device for a drummer who lost his arm in an accident. Then he decided if two arms are good, why not three?

GIL WEINBERG (Georgia Institute of Technology):

Just by having a third arm, you can play one more drum; you can do whatever you wanted to do with your two arms and two legs, and then you have something else.

HIRSHON:

He says music is a great test bed for robot arms.

WEINBERG:

Music is something that is very timely, you really need to do things on the right millisecond. It’s also very spatial.

HIRSHON:

The current arm is directed by the drummer’s gestures, but also has a mind of its own: it’s able to listen to the music, and distinguish between different drums and cymbals. Now Weinberg’s lab is working on a model driven by brainwaves. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

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