Cyborg Arm Makes Music with Amputee Drummer

Professor Gil Weinberg of Georgia Tech creates robots capable of not only playing known music, but also of learning and improvising new music. Now, Weinberg has created a robotic arm for a musician an amputee which has allowed the amputee to play better than the average human being. Jason Barnes is a drummer with a missing arm, Weinberg designed a prosthetic for Barnes which is controlled physically by Barnes’ arm, as well as electronically using electromyography (EMG) muscle sensors in his upper arm, allowing him to adjust the prosthesis’ grip on the stick to control how much it rebounds. The result is that while Barnes cannot control the beat played by the prosthetic drumming arm, the arm does respond to the beat that Barnes is playing by creating an accompaniment and Barnes can pull away when he wants to play without the help of the robotic arm. The prosthesis allows Barnes to play faster and with more stability than any human drummer.

The next step, according to Weinberg, would be to have the prosthesis to be controlled by Barnes’ thoughts. Ultimately, these robotic limbs could be used not only for amputees, but also for humans needing an extra arm during difficult tasks.

(Source: IEEE Spectrum)

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