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Mechatronic violin takes stage in Australia

Posted: 09 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mechatronic violin? robotics? Australia stage?

An embedded robotic violin developed by three University of Adelaide mechatronic engineering students had its debut in a masterclass with the Sydney Youth Orchestra (SYO) in Australia earlier this month.

The team of Yee Chia, Boon Hong, Chin Lee and Beinjy Lim, created the system to link a conventional laptop computer to an MCU that moves both the robotic bow arm and a series of six metal fingers to allow 28 notes to be played across the four strings.

"It is a complex system because the bow needs to be told not only which string to play, but at what angle and speed to play to ensure a clean sound," SAID Colin Hansen, head of the School of Mechanical Engineering at University of Adelaide. "The result is not up to orchestra standard, but it is an impressive piece of engineering."

The robotic violin player is sponsored by the National ICT Australia (NICTA), the country's information and communications technology (ICT) research center of excellence.

Artemis winner
RoboFiddler won second place in the inaugural Artemis Orchestra contest held in Berlin in June 2007. The competition is based on long-standing European traditions in music, and challenges participants to create devices that play real musical instruments with the help of various embedded technologies.

Megan Lee, a 17-year-old SYO violinist, will lead RoboFiddler in playing the two pieces it performed at the Artemis competition: a traditional piece called "Soldier's Joy," and a study from German composer Hans Sitts, "100 Etudes."

"I am interested to see what kind of sound RoboFiddler makes. But I think the emotion and responsiveness of a real-life musician means that the finest performances will always be by flesh and blood!" Megan said.

Playing with other musicians as a member of the SYO is an important part of Megan's musical experience.

NICTA senior research engineer John Judge said the challenges for Robofiddler are even greater. "The award-winning robotics of RoboFiddler have a long way to go, and participating in a masterclass with a real performer is part of the next step to true musicality."

Center of excellence
NICTA is a national research institute with a charter to build Australia's preeminent center of excellence for ICT. NICTA is building capabilities in ICT research, research training and commercialization in the ICT sector. It is funded by the Australian government and is supported by its members: the Australian Capital Territory Government, the Australian National University, NSW Department of State and Regional Development and the University of New South Wales.

NICTA is also supported by its partners: the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, the Victorian Government, the Queensland Government, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times

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