"It is unlikely robots will ever prove capable of combining the scholarship, artistry, technique, interpretation and charisma of a skilled human conductor", it says. The dual-armed robot, designed by Swiss firm ABB, made its debut to mark the First International Festival of Robotics. A world famous tenor, a celebrated orchestra and a robot conductor were the highlight of Pisa's inaugural International Robotics Festival which runs from September 7 to September 13.
In what is being called a world's first, YuMi replaced its human counterpart by successfully conducting the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra at the Tuscan theatre, sweeping the baton in flawless pattern alongside Bocelli as the operatic La Donna E' Mobile reached its climax.
YuMi's finesse was praised by Andrea Colombini, the usual conductor of the Lucca orchestra, who handed over his baton to the robot for three pieces, including the famous aria La donna e mobile, from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto. YuMi continued conducting as soloist Maria Luigia Borsi sang the classic soprano aria "O mio babbino caro" from "Gianni Schicchi" by Puccini. On Tuesday night, the honor of the maestro's movements fell to a robot.
Andrea Colombini, director of the orchestra, helped prepare YuMi for the event.
"It was not love at first sight", Colombini said.
"The gestural nuances of a conductor have been fully reproduced at a level that was previously unthinkable to me", Colombini wrote in a blog post.
The process was recorded and software used to fine-tune its movements and synchronise them to the music before YuMi was ready to lead the orchestra. The simple goal is to develop industrial robots that are easier to use and perform better with less human intervention.
The company says the ultimate goal is not to replace human conductors with robots.