May 15, 2008
Detroit, Michigan, United States. 13-May-2008. (Source: ABC News via The Associated Press) Honda’s ASIMO robot becomes a music machine as it picks up a baton to conduct the Detroit Symphony Orchestra through the opera tune “The Impossible Dream.” The performance was to highlight a $1M gift from Honda to the orchestra’s music education fund.
The irony may be lost to those of you who may not have known that Detroit suffered a downturn when the US automakers closed their plants there because of Japanese automakers gains in America’s markets following the gas shortages of the seventies.
Practice makes perfect. Almost. ASIMO’s limitations became apparent during a rehersal. It was programmed to observe the orchestra’s education director and mimic his moves, but it could not adjust the pacing of the music:
During the first rehearsal, the orchestra lost its place when ASIMO began to slow the tempo, something a human conductor would have sensed and corrected, said bassist Larry Hutchinson.
The song went off without any problems reported, and ASIMO… and the orchestra… was applauded for the performance. Though if ASIMO wants to take up the baton again, it will need to learn to control the tempo of the music better. But considering how far it has come with just walking, that shouldn’t be much of a problem for ASIMO’s engineers to correct.
Now if ASIMO could be taught how to play guitar like Eddie Van Halen, or electronics like Kraftwerk…