13 September, 2017
YuMi led the orchestra in three of the 18 pieces, performed by the Lucca Philharmonic orchestra in the elegant Teatro Verdi, for an event to coincide with the First International Festival of Robotics held in the city.
Like the first Asimo conductor, the robot can only replicate the movements of conductors - not respond to the nuances of the music or encourage players to adopt a change of tone.
"Further to conducting Bocelli, he also conducted soloist Maria Luigia Borsi in a rendition of "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's 'Gianni Schicchi".
It was a perfectly normal symphony performance aside from one crucial aspect: it was conducted by a robot.
"One of the biggest barriers in robotics is not the physical hardware [but] the engineering that it takes to teach a robot what to do", said ABB's chief executive, Ulrich Spiesshofer, in comments included in a company-produced YouTube video. YuMi has made waves in the past because of its ability to perform tasks requiring fine motor skills, like threading a needle, using its two arms. Its movement is fluid, similar to that of a human, instead of the jerky mechanics you might be used to seeing from our robotic friends.
The sold-out theatre also was treated to a performance of "La Donna è Mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto by famous Italian tenor Bocelli. The bot is equipped with 30 sensors that perceive the world in 3-D.
It's not a particularly friendly looking robot, and Colombini acknowledged that they did not get on at first. It showed that a robot could really conduct an orchestra, but only with the excellent work of very talented engineers and a real maestro.
"Of course, YuMi is good when it comes to technique, but is ultimately not gifted with human sensitivity", he wrote last week.