End-of-year engineering school projects often pique our interest for their creativity. It's not every day that they can carry a bassline, however. James McVay's robot project for his honors year at the Victoria University of Wellington, the supremely well-named MechBass, wouldn't have much trouble keeping up with a favorite band. It centers on a custom, Arduino-compatible board that controls the plucking, fretting and damping of four strings to faithfully recreate bass guitar sounds from MIDI input. The design even accounts for the unwanted noises of actuators and motors, while virtually everything was either 3D-printed or laser-cut just for the task at hand. Sounds good? There's more in the pipeline: an upcoming Swivel robot will experiment with different playing techniques, and McVay ultimately sees his work teaching us about robotic music's interaction with human performers. For now, we'll be happy with the video after the break and hope that MechBass takes requests.
MechBass robot nails bass guitar sounds with Arduino and a stone cold groove (video)
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