A Georgia Tech music tech professor and grad student have created the first robotic musician. Haile - a drummer - is truly a musician because it hears what other musicians are doing and changes beats accordingly, CNN reports.
"With Haile there are two levels of musical knowledge .... The basic level is to teach it to learn to identify music, to imitate," professor of musical technology Gil Weinberg said.
"The higher level is stability of rhythm, to be able to distinguish between similar rhythms. In essence, Haile has the ability to recognize if a rhythm is more chaotic or stable, and can adjust its playing accordingly."
Weinberg, who was formerly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes Haile is a critical development in the melding of digital and acoustic music.
"I ultimately wanted to explore acoustics," he said as he explained why he felt constrained by his earlier creations. "None of my previous work had the physical or visual cues of the acoustic world. This led me towards the creation of Haile."
The robotic drummer is not only programmed with specific pieces but also with an understanding of countless pitches, rhythms and patterns, which are used during performances. Like a concert drum solo, Haile never quite plays the same thing twice, but plays off the creations of those performing around it.
Haile made its debut at SIGGRAPH 2006 in Boston, and organizer Heather Elliott-Famularo says the experience of watching humans and machines actually collaborate in a band is something special.
"Knowing that Haile is 'hearing' the music and responding to the tone, pitch and amplitude of the beat when creating its own drum response is quite moving," she said.
While the scientists have lots of improvements to make to the current incarnation, a next step would be an all-robot band, which might be as much a breakthrough as all-girl bands once were.
"We have only focused on human/robot interaction, and we feel the area has not yet fully been explored," Weinberg said. "But it would be interesting to see how two robots inspire each other in music."