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Conducting Robot

Faculty Mentor: Andrea Salgian

Students: Michael Bauer & Laurence Agina

The goal of this project is to design, fabricate, and assemble a humanoid robot can conduct an orchestra with a large, varied, and non-predetermined repertoire.

The robot was designed using CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. Both of its arms have four degrees of freedom, each of which was obtained using a servo motor that can rotate 180 degrees and has the required torque. The arms are very modular and consist of pieces of thin aluminum sheets combined with L-brackets and bolts. The robot is controlled by an Arduino Mega and an Arduino Uno controller, which receive signals from a laptop computer and send signals to the servo motors located in the robot arms. Custom circuit boards were designed. The base of the robot has two large motors and four batteries allowing it to move freely on stage.

The musical score is provided in the form of a MIDI file. Information about tempo, dynamics, and cueing is extracted from the file and used to generate the trajectory of the conducting motion. This motion is based on the gestures of Dr. John Leonard from the Department of Music, who was recorded using a Microsoft Kinect camera. Shoulder, elbow and wrist coordinates recorded at 30 frames per second were converted into angles for servo motor rotation using inverse kinematics.

All the programming was done in the Processing programming language.

This robot is based on prototypes designed in the interdisciplinary special topics class on Conducting Robots, and we want to thank all the previous students and faculty that have contributed to this project. As an interdisciplinary project, this robot has allowed students from different backgrounds to work together to create something new and innovative.