BUT CAN IT FEEL THE MUSIC?

The robots are coming for Mozart

They’re everywhere now: in your office, your bed, your kitchen toaster. Of course, they’d make it to the philharmonic at some point.

At a robotics showcase in Pisa, Italy on Sept. 12, a robot—for the very first time in history—conducted an entire orchestra. The dual-armed robot, which was designed by Swiss tech company ABB and is named YuMi (a word derived from, surprise, “you and me”), was “taught” all the movements by Lucca Philharmonic orchestra conductor Andrea Colombini, who directed its arms in rehearsals. It conducted three pieces at Tuesday’s show alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, including the famous “La donna e mobile” aria from Verdi’s Rigoletto.

“The gestural nuances of a conductor have been fully reproduced at a level that was previously unthinkable to me,” Colombini marveled in a blog post before the performance.

Automation has already come to the writing of music. While YuMi (which can also solve a Rubik’s cube and thread a needle) won’t ever replicate the nuanced spirit and technical spontaneity required from human conductors for world-class performances, it is still quite something to observe.

Behold.

Humanoid robot YuMi conducts the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra performing a concert alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli at the Verdi Theatre in Pisa, Italy September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli - RC1C9739E350
Reuters/Remo Casilli
Humanoid robot YuMi conducts the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra performing a concert alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli at the Verdi Theatre in Pisa
Reuters/Remo Casilli
Humanoid robot YuMi is seen during the rehearsal at the Verdi Theatre in Pisa, Italy September 12, 2017. YuMi will conduct the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra, performing a concert alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli (not pictured). REUTERS/Remo Casilli - RC14CD44AAD0
Reuters/Remo Casilli

Read this next: Mozart, the best new artist of 1782, outsold Drake and Beyoncé in 2016

home our picks popular latest obsessions search