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Robot Drum Arm

January 23, 2018

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


Georgia Tech

(Georgia Tech)


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 Gil Weinberg at Georgia Tech originally made the device for a drummer who lost his arm in an accident.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.


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


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


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.

Story by Science Update staff