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This Robot Knows How to Improvise Musically

Meet Shimon. Unlike his robot compatriots, he's not busy plotting to overthrow his human masters. Instead, he would love to do nothing more than rock out on the marimba in a robot-human jamming session.

Shimon is the latest addition to Georgia Tech's lineup of musical mecha. Like his predecessor, Haile, he provides a fitting accompaniment to his fleshy counterpart's jazzy tunes. Unlike other instrumentalist droids, Shimon accomplishes this not with preset songs, but by tapping into his bandmates' musical style and improvising on the fly.

The Georgia Tech researchers who built Shimon also gave him a one camera eye to help him recognize humans. Further developments would include giving the robot the capacity to understand specific nonverbal cues. It's unknown if this will also involve being able to recognize a pair of hot groupies in the front row.

[source: Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology via New Scientist]