The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures will be one to watch this festive season. Entitled, Sparks Will Fly: How to Hack your Home, the lectures will be delivered by Prof Danielle George from the University of Manchester, and feature robotic instruments playing a very well-known piece of music.
The National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems, here at the University of Leeds, contributed a robotic bass guitar as well as working with National Instruments to programme an electric one to form part of the orchestra.
Originally developed by Dr Andrew Jackson, Teaching and Research Fellow in the Faculty of Engineering, the robo-bass was created to help with the delivery of teaching on computer programming techniques as part of the LabVIEW Academy.
Dr Jackson explains: ‘The robot mimics the way in which a human plays the bass, if the human had 12 fingers on their left hand that is. Small solenoids are used to actuate 3D printed fingers that press down on the frets, selecting which note should be played while two small pneumatic cylinders are used to pick the string. The software runs on a small embedded controller called a myRIO that is capable of accurately keeping the timing correct.’