Mix a cup of mechanical engineering with a dash of drum set and you end up with Steve, the robotic drummer. We know that it uses an MSA-T Midi Decoder but that’s about the extent of what has been shared. Just from observing the video, we think Steve’s got a few things going for him when compared to PEART, the robot drummer we saw back in 2005. Steve features two sticks for each drum and symbol and seems to be quite responsive.

Steve’s great, but we still think Rick Allen’s got this thing beat. Although this is a quality build, there’s no replacement for a human that can bang the drum in millions of subtly different way. That isn’t to say we don’t see potential in the hack. Perhaps it’s time to update a classic idea, the robotic orchestra.  Don’t know what we mean? Check out  3:58 into the video embedded after the break.

Take a look at the robotic orchestra 3:58 into the video.

[via Highly Liquid]


  1. emilio says:

    maybe this will end the tradition that 99% of bands on earth are constantly looking for a drummer…

  2. samurai says:

    symbol != cymbal


    electrical engineers != musicians

  3. Lambda_drive says:

    I’ll be impressed when I see it play the intro to Hot for teacher.

  4. Spencer says:

    I am both an electrical engineer and a musician.

  5. Mike says:

    Expected to see a rock band/guitar hero hack..

    Pleasantly surprised to not see that! :)

    Metallica’s “One” @ 0:18

  6. Matt says:

    Even with the real drums, it still sounds like a computer. Figure out how to program it to swing and maybe you’ve got something.

  7. Adam Ziegler says:

    I used to visit the House on the Rock when I was a kid… went a few years ago to find out that they have not maintained a number of the mechanical orchestras… many of the instruments now have a small speaker sitting behind them. Many of the new exhibits (post 1989) look as if they were never intended to be be really played instruments. I think the work Alex Jordan did was absolutely awesome … it just too bad they haven’t been able to continue his work as well.

  8. Skitchin says:

    I totally recognized the Metallica bit! Not the other stuff though…Totally blown away by the speed and timing!

    Matt: I agree that it still has a computerized sound, likely stemming from the uniform sound and timing of the notes.

  9. andrew says:

    I heard the Metallica bit too. It’s weird how obviously un-human it sounds though.

    You could do a cool experiment with this. You could try to make the robot sound more human by systematically introducing more “error” or variability in the timing and position of the drumming. I bet most listeners would say that some error sounds better than none.

  10. Jeff Wallin says:

    God i hate how everyones solution is to program error. That is not the problem. The problem is the velocity and angle of the sticks hitting the drum. If you can program it to have a hundred different ways of hitting the head then it may sound human.

    Humans natrually hit it at the right time, but what matters is how they hit it.

  11. StramgeRover says:

    Of course it doesn’t sound human. That’s not a drum part a human would ever play (unless the human was a douchebag). Program in a decent groove and I’ll bet it would sound much better. Then some velocity variations…

    Love to hear how it would do if the sticks ‘floated’ a little bit, so the don’t hit exactly the same spot every time.

  12. Paul says:

    The software in the first video looks like Ableton live…

  13. Jeremy C says:

    Nice – that’s a really solid build. The 2-drum stick setup is quite nice as well.

  14. Nathan says:

    This is the blog of the guy that made it. Might find more information there..

  15. rob says:

    DONT MESS WITH OUR ROCK IN ROLL! HUMANS ONLY NO ROBOTS PLZ! Since you know, blue collar labor force is constantly being replaced by robots….. and blue collars love rock and roll……

  16. Jeff Wallin says:

    @Caleb Kraft

    While similar they are not the same thing.

    Programming in error means the computer has less control.

    Programming variation means teaching the computer how to control the sticks in more ways.

    What your saying could mislead others into believing that drummers should naturally add human error.

    The whole point of a percussion education is to remove that human error.

  17. Harvie says:

    I wanna see “Amen break” ;)

  18. Viadd says:

    For another drumbot with a lot more cute.

  19. hogiewan says:

    as mentioned a real drummer should have exact timing, but will also vary the dynamics of each hit – that’s where the groove comes from.

  20. Nathan says:

    The guy that made this is a drummer for the band that uses this robotic drummer. They have both a real drummer and the robot drummer. For extra beats and stuff, and a more electronic sound. And it would seem that the dynamics are programmed into Live… But I’m not totally sure about that.

  21. TinFoilHats says:

    “Steve features two sticks for each drum and symbol [sic]”

    I’ll bite…. Does it disable one of the two sticks when it plays Def Leppard songs?

  22. shbazjinkens says:

    Whoever built this, look into force sensitivity..

    It doesn’t sound better than synth MIDI drums to me.

    This guy put a lot of thought into his set, I’ve seen it a couple of times and it’s much better.

  23. Shawn Jones says:

    The other night, I saw the band Captured By Robots here in Gainesville. He takes it to the next level. Really cool show.

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