If you ever wondered what classic Beatles tunes would sound like if they were played by entities that show no human emotion, you could always just listen to Paul McCartney. Nah, but seriously, a group of students at Drexel University’s Music and Entertainment Technology Lab (MET-lab) have created an autonomous group of robots that can not only play instruments in time to a musical score but can also sing in synthesized English speech.
The band comprises four HUBO robots. The HUBO was created by a group called KAIST, which is working with universities in eight states around the country to work on continuous robotic research. Drexels’ MET-lab project is just one of many collaborations involving the technology. For their part, Drexel students timed and automated the movements of the robots and also worked on enhancing text-to-speech technology that can incorporate changing pitch.
In their flagship performance, the band of robots, “The Hubos,” performed the famous Beatles tune “Come Together.” The robots only play percussive instruments, so we’re not quite at the point of HUBOs that can strum a guitar or bass, but it’s still a pretty enjoyable presentation nevertheless. Student Matthew Prockup was the lead on the project. We have to wonder when these guys will be good enough to trick the judges on The Voice. In time; in time.