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Are Robots the Future of Conducting?

Honda's Asimo Robot

DSO led by robot maestro

Asimo nails waltz with lifelike skill

By Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press

If this keeps up Leonard Slatkin, the new music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, might be out of a job before he starts his tenure.

Asimo, Honda's humanoid robot, made its conducting debut Tuesday at Orchestra Hall, leading the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in "The Impossible Dream" of Broadway fame.

Let's say right away that the display was a technological marvel and as cool as all get-out. But it was conducting in only the most limited definition. In other words, Slatkin's job is safe, and Asimo shouldn't quit its day gig.

Which is not to pooh-pooh the achievement. Asimo – which stands 4-foot-3, weighs 119 pounds and favors a white jump suit rather than black tie – walked confidently on stage, waved and said in a high chirp, "Hello, everyone!"

An engineer cued Asimo wirelessly. It lifted its arms and gave the downbeat, conducting waltz time with fluid, lifelike gestures. It deliberately slowed down for the big finish, shifting into 6/8 time and ending with a dramatic held note. Bravo!

Read more about this at the Detroit Free Press website: