The Magic Of Music Made By Robots

This time, the magic of music has been made by the artist born and raised in New Zealand, Nigel Stanford, and a group of Kuka Agilus six robots. The artist and engineer explores the combination of technology and music.

This is not the first project to be made by Stanford, one of his best-known projects is that of Cymatics, which combines science and sound, showing the science of visualizing the manipulation of elements such as water, fire and lightening, carrying out complicated patterns through audio frequencies; this video had around 12 million views on YouTube. After this, Nigel became fascinated and eager to make another great project that would be revolutionary.

This time, his great challenge was to combine music and new technologies, using robotic arms to create a musical album, an idea assisted by Kuka robotics and Agilus sixx compact six-axis robots with a payload of 13 pounds and a precision of 0.3 m; generally used in assembly lines, automobile construction and metal welding due to their high speed, precision, flexibility and versatility.

This project began around 2015 in his garage, performing tests until he figured out how to program them to apply the appropriate movements and play the piano keys, the guitar picks and drumsticks, and to step on the percussion pedals. The robots reproduce a large part of the album’s music with five main instruments: drums, bass, piano, synthesizer and turntables. He programmed the robots using the Maya 3D modeling software with an add-on called Robot Animator. Stanford had the help of experts from KUKA Robotics and KUKA partner Andy Flessas (AKA, andyRobot).

Standard says: “I would program the movements in Maya and export a text file that contained the movement, which the robots would load. Then I would execute the movement to see if it worked, otherwise I would make the adjustments and try again.”

Well, the result of this project is an album called Automática, where he shows how he applied this technological creativity in a video where the robots not only play the instruments, but end up going mad and destroying everything.

The video was made with the help of cinematographer Timur Civan, and director Shahir Daud who had already worked with Nigel on the Cymatics project. This time, the challenge was greater due to the variety of technology that would have to be adapted to the context of robotics, modern digital technology and AI.

Daud says, “Our final goal was to create visuals that were intimately tied to the corresponding audio, and a camera that would increase this feeling through motivated movements.”

The result of this project is simply spectacular, the fact that they were able to configure the robots to make music, demonstrating the progress that new technologies have made and the creative power of the human mind.

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