Channel 2's Berndt Petersen reports from downtown Atlanta.

Georgia Tech researchers create 3-armed drummer

Two years ago, researchers at Georgia Tech created a robotic arm for an amputee drummer. Now they’re taking it up a notch.

“Music is awesome. People are still studying why evolution led us to like music so much,” Professor Gil Weinberg said.

Weinberg, who likes music and robots, strapped a robotic arm onto the shoulder of graduate student Tyler White, and made him the world’s first three-armed drummer.

“I started when my parents bought me a drum set when I was 5 years old. They regretted it because it was really loud,” White said.

The so-called “smart arm” can listen to the music and pick up a beat.

“The arm has music intelligence, like all of our robots. It understands music. Our motto is: Listen like a human, and play like a machine,” Weinberg said.

Percussion may never be the same. Researchers said that if they can link the arm to the brain, this technology could one day save lives in an operating room.

“(It could do) something as crazy or in-depth as doing surgery, or something as easy as grabbing you a Coke off the counter,” White said.

“I think it’s very interesting if the arm is actually smart enough to understand what you want, and we can explore things that we cannot even think now,” Weinberg said.

Researchers named their new band Tyler and the Cyborgs. Their first public performance will be at 7 p.m. March 3 in the Ferst Center on the Georgia Tech campus. Admission is free.

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