Cue the John Henry versus the locomotive-like contests. A scientist at Georgia Tech has developed a robotic drumming arm.
According to Paul Ridden’s article, GT professor Gil Weinberg designed the apparatus for drummer Jason Barnes, who, while cleaning out an exhaust duct at a restaurant, “got a nasty shock”:
More than 22,000 volts in fact. The accident eventually led to his right arm being amputated. Not wanting to give up on his percussive passion, he hacked a prosthetic arm. Though effective, it wasn’t ideal. Professor Weinberg and team stepped in and created a double-stick robotic arm.
Attaching to a musician’s shoulder, the device is able to determine the layout of kit components and the direction and proximity of the drummer’s arms thanks to built-in accelerometers–changing playing positions accordingly. Writes Ridden, “If the human arm moves to play a hit-hat, for example, the robot arm adjusts to play the ride cymbal, when the player paradiddles on the snare, the attachment moves to the tom at the side.”
But don’t take our word for it. Watch the video below (and check out the full article at Gizmag):