Canadian Packaging

O Sole YuMi-o

ABB’s YuMi robot to conduct Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra on September 12, 2017.

September 12, 2017   by Canadian Packaging staff

ABB’s YuMi humanoid robot is slated to conduct Tuscan, Italy’s Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra on the evening of September 12, 2017, alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Italy.

The baton twirling robot from the Swiss/Swedish firm ABB will conduct Bocelli and the orchestra through Giuseppe Verdi’s aria La Donna è Mobile from Rigoletto.

The performance is part of the First International Festival of Robotics, and will also have YuMi conduct opera soloist Maria Luigia Borsi through O mio babbino caro from Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

YuMi will also conduct a passage from Pietro Mascagni’s intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana.

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Despite the fact that Canadian Packaging features editor Andrew Joseph says his uncle—a former conductor of the New Delhi Symphony Orchestra and the India Army—might be rolling over in his grave, Yumi is said to have a graceful skill.

YuMi was trained by director/conductor Andrea Colombi who marveled at the high level of fluidity of gesture saying the robot’s performance possessed “incredible softness and expressive nuancing.”

Colombi did add, however that while the robot uses its arm, the soul and spirit are always of the man.

According to Colombi, writing on the ABB website: “The robot’s performance was developed in two steps. First, my movements were captured with a process called ‘lead-through programming,’ where the robot’s two arms are guided to follow my motions with great attention to detail; these movements are then recorded.

“The second step involved fine-tuning the movements in ABB’s RobotStudio software, where we made sure the motions were synchronized to the music. Of course this took some technical expertise from ABB, but the lead-through programming let me focus on naturally doing what I do best, bringing the music to life. It is amazing to me that this could be accomplished so smoothly,” he states.

“I imagine the robot could serve as an aid, perhaps to execute, in the absence of a conductor, the first rehearsal, before the director steps in to make the adjustments that result in the material and artistic interpretation of a work of music,” sums up Colombi.

“Once we understood each other, YuMi and I became good friends and I am very much looking forward to the performance.”

The performance will be the finale of the International Festival of Robotics being held in Pisa, organized by the Scuola Normale of Pisa university and the ARPA foundation of which Bocelli is the honorary head.

Back in 2008, Sony’s Asimo humanoid robot also directed an orchestra, but that robot only used its right hand—Yumi will use both to coordinate the musical ensemble.

Below is a YouTube video posted by ABB giving us a taste of the upcoming YuMi performance:


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