Solo Musicians Can Add Percussion with a Robot
Tom Spendlove posted on April 28, 2018 |
Attaching a percussion robot to the side of a standard cajon can turn a single performer into a duo.

The UTSUWA engineers in Japan have a general vision to "devise new products and services that would enrich and impact everyday life in a lasting way." This is remarkably close to my broad idea that engineers should make the world a better place. UTSUWA's first project is Cabot, a drum-playing robot that attaches to box drums. The team is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for their first production run.

Cabot's robotic body attaches to cajons with drumhead widths of 285 to 300 millimeters. The robot itself is detachable and the campaign page says that it will come with a case but no case is shown. The bot connects to a foot pedal that allows the user to control the beats and different sounds coming from the drum. The drum bot's homepage shows rappers, violins, saxophones, pianos and several guitarists using the bot to enhance their performances.

The group says that the benefit to a drum robot vs a drum machine or computerized setup is the soundwaves. During a musical performance the percussive soundwaves will add to the experience for both the performers and the audience. In addition to the foot pedal the robot can be controlled by the Cabot app. Users can upload their specific beats with other Cabot users and there are also preloaded beats. Cabot can also be operated through a PC instead of smartphone. The system works using AC power but the campaign page also says that the unit can be powered with a 12 Volt, 6 Amp battery.

UTSUWA looks to have founded itself around the Cabot project, and has developed the bot through the Sharp IOT.make Bootcamp,  the Kyoto University Entrepreneurs Program, and Modelor. There's a distinct lack of technical details about this project, with no specification sheet for size, control system, or motor / servo descriptions. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that this means they're aiming for a musician / casual crowd instead of hardcore makers and engineers. I've seen a few singer songwriters perform using stomp boxes and tambourine setups that look like they take quite a beating and never quite do what the user needs - let's hope that the Cabot is capable of playing beats and adding to musical performances. The campaign ends on May 31 and if they hit their highly ambitious crowdfunding goal first units are currently scheduled to ship March 2019.

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