Synth playing robot
It was made over 25 years ago. WABOT-2 was a robot that was developed by Waseda University in 1984 as an intelligent humanoid keyboard player.
When it was made, it was considered the ‘most advanced robot of its time’ – it could speak Japanese, and it could play a song on a synthesizer, using both hands and feet, while reading the sheet music with it’s single ‘eye’. It could also listen to a person’s singing voice, adjust its tempo to match, identify the notes and come up with a live accompaniment based on the sung melody. Oh, and it could carry on a basic conversation too.
To put this in perspective, 1984 is the year the Macintosh was put on the market.
The WABAT-2 was built as a way to develop, research and advance robotic technology. It used a “hierarchical system of 80 microprocessors modeled after the human nervous system”, and it’s limbs had 50 degrees of freedom, which was much more than any other robot existing at that time. It was hailed as a landmark acheivement in the evolution of “personal robots”.
Here is a clip of the robot demonstrating it’s chops at Expo ‘85 in Tsukuba, Japan with a performance of Kitaro’s new age classic “Silk Road.”
Yes, that’s an ultra-rare Yamaha FX-1 shown in this video. The FX-1 looked similar to the coveted GX-1, but was entirely different – it was an FM synth (Think DX-7).
The most advanced robot in the world, a synth player. I love it. Now, if only WABAT-2 could get together with Haile, the drumming, improvising robot and get down with some funky robot grooves. Either way, just don’t piss him off, he’s liable to rip your arms off.
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