Robot band performs "Come Together"

I'm having flashbacks to childhood visits to Showbiz Pizza, but this robot band, put together by researchers at Drexel University for an Engineering Week exhibition, is a bit more impressive than the animatronic animals that entertained people over plates of bad pizza.

For one thing: These musical bots aren't just going through the motions, performing pre-programmed movements in time to a tape of music.

Produced by the Music & Entertainment Technology Laboratory, the HUBOs are operating autonomously (not human-controlled). Their movements are directed by student-developed software to perform the gestures necessary to produce the appropriate notes and beats as dictated by a musical score. Every sound in the video was performed by the robots.

MET-lab student Matthew Prockup created the musical arrangement for drum kit and three "Hubophones", novel percussion instruments designed and constructed by the lab for this performance.

Video Link


  1. If they’re robots, why are they having so much trouble playing in time?  Is there some indeterminate lag in their programming?

    1. Might be indeterminate lag with some of the physical motions.  The time it takes the robot limbs to hit the kick drum, snare, and that pipe bass thing may not all be the same, or vary between instances of the same motion due to mechanical factors.

      A few milliseconds of drift between instruments is enough to distract fleshbags like us.  

  2. Don’t mean to cast aspersions — but  since this can all could be triggered by MIDI the real achievement is creating the mechanism and software to play the “real” instrument based on MIDI commands.  Similar to the current generation of player pianos.  Can’t tell from the description if it’s really deeper than that.  

  3. If you like this, you should check out a “band” called Catured! By Robots.  It’s one guy and a team of electro-pneumatic robots playing mostly punk songs.  This guy has been touring for years and even sets up and tears down the production night after night and drives everything to the next town via RV.

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