The Flawless Musician

By Meera Dolasia on November 7, 2008

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Robo flautist or WF4IV (Waseda Flutist No. 4 Refined IV), as he likes to be called, is an amazing musician. Wearing just a dapper black hat, this bony, all metal flute player, plays complex scores perfectly and even interacts and engages with his audience.

But of course he does have a slight advantage over the rest of us - for the folks at Waseda University in Japan have re-engineered him four times until he is almost perfect. The new re-incarnation, which has come a long way from the first three versions (see picture above) wowed the robotic world and classical musicians everywhere, when it was recently unveiled at the BioRob conference in Arizona.

The latest version of this flute-playing robot has been carefully designed to mimic the expert air controls required of a professional flute player. He has perfectly flexible fingers, which can open and close all the flute keys. He has artificial lips, which are malleable (can be shaped), with pins embedded on them to help control their shape. Robo's tongue has also had a complete overhaul, to enable a double-tonguing technique, which flautists use to play higher speed songs.

The robot's lungs comprise of two airtight acrylic containers that are equipped with a bellow - a device that delivers pressurized air in a controlled quality to a controlled location. This allows Robo to simulate inhaling and exhaling like a human. Two cameras built into its eyes, allow it to interact with the audience and other musicians.

The main purpose behind perfecting this robot, whose first version was released in 1990, is to get it to a level where it gets sophisticated enough to be able to interact with humans, so that it can teach music to young children. While that may be a few versions away, this fourth re-incarnation certainly does a great job at playing "Flight of the Bumblebee", a classical song composed in the 1900's that is considered quite challenging by musicians of all ages.,

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  • no oneWednesday, August 31, 2016 at 4:43 pm
    Looks a bit creepy
    • meThursday, October 30, 2014 at 3:27 pm
      I like the accordian-looking diaphragm they made for it
      • Megster718Monday, June 2, 2014 at 8:41 am
        Wow this is nice
        • legend-of-zelda
          legend-of-zeldaMonday, May 20, 2013 at 7:11 am
          • jeewonSunday, January 27, 2013 at 3:52 pm
            nice! I play the piano thats song is The Flight of the Bumble Bee it's hard to play! I love this robot
            • imdabomb
              imdabombThursday, December 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm
              Cool, i play the flute
              • CalieTuesday, December 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm
                I play the flute. I may not be flawless but I am good at it
                • safiya
                  safiyaWednesday, October 24, 2012 at 1:37 am
                  coooooooooooooooooooooooooooool men....i mean girls...sorry!
                  • chilton16Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm
                    Wow. at first its kinda creepy, but after a while, its pretty cool. i honestly think to have a robot do that, it blows my mind.
                    • alltech25
                      alltech25Friday, October 5, 2012 at 7:00 am
                      Wow! Maybe the next generation will have music made by robots!

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