Robot Arm Turns Wearers Into Drumming Cyborgs With Bonus Appendage

Bang, bang, bang on the drum.

YouTube.com/Georgia Tech

If you’re a drummer or cyborg enthusiast envious of the percussive robot arm recently featured in Inverse’s Top 15 Heavy Metal Moments in Science™, good news! Georgia Tech engineers recently created a third arm wearable by anyone (the previous version was a prosthesis for an amputee). It listens to a drummer’s beat and reacts accordingly, speeding up or slowing down in tempo.

Though this robot arm is the first specifically aimed at lending an additional hand when thumping out a beat, it’s not the first prosthetic to push the boundaries of what musicians and artists are capable of. In 2013, a pair of McGill University Ph.D. students invented wearable electronics that produce music as dancers move — the result looks something like ballet by way of H.R. Giger.

The Georgia Tech roboticists, for their part, want to continue to increase the mechanical limb’s capabilities. Down the line, they plan to link the drumming arm to an electroencephalogram headband, so that musicians can mentally control the robot appendage. (A similar device might have surgical potential, Georgia Tech professor Gil Weinberg says in a statement.) Eat your heart out, Neil Peart.