Humans thought they had mastered a lot of skills better than robots, and violin playing is one of them. Automated instruments have come a long way from the days of the self-playing piano and the music box. This is the latest incarnation in mechanical instruments. It was created by Seth Goldstein, and he dubbed it the Ro-Bow. This invention can certainly play the violin better than me, but I’ve never touched a violin. So, with the right programming, could it play better than an actual violinist?
Goldstein is a retired engineer with a really neat hobby. He calls Ro-bow a kinetic sculpture. The Ro-Bow consists of a violin, bow, and robotic fingers manipulated by electromagnetic actuators. Those are controlled by an electronic keyboard. So, whatever melody is input by the keyboard, can be output by the Ro-Bow. So far, this musical little robot has been able to hold it’s own playing a fast-tempo Irish jig and a leisurely rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
The bow can move up and down, reverse directions, and combinations of strings can be pulled and pushed. You can watch as the Ro-Bow even rotates the violin like how a violinist might turn it inward against his chin.
The actuators behave just like human fingers and are capable of holding down different combinations of strings. Seth Goldstein also created computer program with, “a bewildering array of nesting complexity,” to control every aspect of the Ro-Bow.
I wouldn’t worry about the Ro-Bow popping up at the latest jazz bar. Although this robot violin can play a tune, it sounds canned rather than organic. This is more of a feat in robotics and computer engineering than robots acquiring a penchant for lullabies. There is no AI in Goldstein’s creation at all, so humans have nothing to worry about, yet.