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A Robotic Hand Plays the Piano With a More Human Touch

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The robot is capable of performing simple songs in different styles.

University of Cambridge researchers have developed a robotic hand that can play the piano.

Credit: Josie Hughes

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. have developed a robotic hand that can play the piano.

The hand operates passively, meaning its fingers are not individually connected to any motors; instead, a simple mechanical arm controls only the wrist, and the rest of the hand follows using a design that mimics human anatomy.

For now, the hand is only capable of performing simple songs, but it can execute different styles and dynamics.

The researchers designed the hand with bones and ligaments placed as they are in nature.

The team evaluated how hard or soft different components needed to be, and fabricated the hand with a three-dimensional printer that blended hard plastic and soft rubber in different ratios to create ligaments and joints with varying degrees of stiffness.

Said Cambridge’s Josie Hughes, “We’re going beyond simply treating notes as a list of instructions. Piano playing is an art. We’re trying to introduce that complexity, depth, and artistry into our robot’s behavior.”

From The New York Times
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