YuMi the Robot Conducts Verdi With Italian Orchestra

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

PISA, Italy (Reuters) – YuMi the humanoid robot showed no signs of nerves on Tuesday night as it raised its baton to conduct the Lucca Philharmonic orchestra alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

A very special guest is in final rehearsals at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Italy, ahead of a unique performance this week to mark the First International Festival of Robotics. ABB’s collaborative robot YuMi will be conducting the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra – marking a breakthrough in robotic involvement in the arts.

Flutist Andrea Griminelli (L) and tenor Andrea Bocelli (C) ‘conducted’ by a robot for the first time (AFP)
The two-armed robot, designed by Swiss firm ABB, made its debut at Pisa’s Verdi Theatre to mark the First International Festival of Robotics in the Tuscan city.

“We basically had to find time to understand his movements. When we found the way, everything was pretty easy,” said the orchestra’s resident conductor, Andrea Colombini.

Italian conductor Andrea Colombini photographed with YuMi the robot during a rehearsal (AFP)
“It is absolutely fantastic. And the technicians were fantastic just to make everything perfect, especially in the length and in the speed of the gesture, which is very important,” he said.

YuMi, whose name is derived from the phrase ‘you and me’, was taught all the movements by Colombini, who held its arms in rehearsals so the computer could memorize the correct gestures. The robot is not able to improvise and any unexpected change in tempo from the musicians would have been ruinous.

YuMi the robot ‘conducted’ the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra at The Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Italy (AFP)
The robot conducted three of the 18 pieces performed on Tuesday night, including the famous aria La Donna e’ Mobile, from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto.

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