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The robot graced the stage at the National Theater of Korea to conduct the country’s national symphony orchestra on June 30, marking the first public performance of a robot conductor in South Korea.
EveR 6, the android that participated in the performance called Absence, is developed by the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH). The robot is equipped with a humanoid face and has a human form with a torso, two arms, a neck and a head.
KITECH trained the EveR 6 with “motion capture” technology using sensor attachments that digitally record the trajectory of the conductor’s baton. The robot is also trained to track the speed of the baton’s movements.
Prior to the performance, the National Theater of Korea released a teaser video on their YouTube channel that outlines the rehearsal and practice process.
On stage, the robot was joined by conductor Choi Soo Yeol, who also led the performance. Choi is reported to have said that one of the most difficult aspects for robots is “real-time interaction and communication”, especially in a musical context.
He said the EveR 6’s “critical weakness” is that it can’t listen. However, Choi also said that “the robot was able to represent such detailed movements much better than I had imagined.”
예술과 기술의 만남
지휘자 최수열 이 함께하는 국악관현악,
지휘자의 가치를 찾아가는 여정 어떻게 보셨나요
댓글을 통해 여러분들의 소감도 들려주세요 pic.twitter.com/cklul89RYg
— 국립극장 (@ntok_) June 30, 2023
Choi and EveR 6 took turns conducting the pieces, the robot led three of the five pieces, and then performed the single piece side by side. After the concert, Choi said:
“This concert showed that (robots and humans) can coexist and complement each other, not replace each other.”
Cointelegraph reached out to the Korean National Symphony Orchestra for comments from the musicians conducted by the android, but did not immediately receive a response.
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The audience in attendance was mixed, with one concert goer, Lee Young Ji, commenting on the robot’s ability to keep the beat. The participant said that he was short of “breathing” and that:
“It felt like the robot needed to do some work to get the job done.”
Another member of the audience, Song In Ho, said that the robot operates at a very basic level and will be able to do more if equipped with an artificial intelligence (AI) system to help it understand and analyze music.
However, the performance was the first of its kind in South Korea. Honda’s Asimo robot previously conducted a performance with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2008.
In 2017, a robot named Yumi made a guest appearance in Switzerland. Finally, in 2020, the Japanese-designed Alter 3 robot performed a 7-minute piece of music called “Android Opera” and titled “Terrible Beauty”.