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Robomaestro

YuMi the robot music conductor steals limelight

Humanoid robot YuMi was as classical musicians and singers helped open a robotics fair in the Tuscan city of Pisa. The robot's range of movement, learned by imitation, appeared to be almost human.

Watch video 01:13

Robot YuMi guides the orchestra

World-renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli was not the only star of a classical concert that opened the International Robotics Festival in the Italian city of Pisa.

Swiss-made robot YuMi made its conducting debut at the Verdi Theater, conducted three of the 18 pieces performed by the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra.

They included the famous aria La Donna e' Mobile, from Verdi's opera Rigoletto, sung by Bocelli.

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YuMi, made by the firm ABB, was taught its movements by the orchestra's regular conductor Colombani. He held the robot's two arms in rehearsals so Yumi's computer could memorize the right gestures.

'Not love at first sight'

Yumi's smooth, human-like movements are a big improvement on its Honda-built "rival" Asimo, which conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2008. Asimo had a very limited up-and-down, one arm movement.

Read more: 'Robots and humans will work together'

Colombini did not always have such an appreciation of the robotic maestro's abilities.

"It was not love at first sight,” Colombini said. "At the start, I kept getting wound up because it kept getting stuck, and when the robot gets stuck it takes 25 to 30 minutes to reset it," he said. "It took a long time."

rc/sms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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