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Robot takes podium as orchestra conductor in Seoul

An android robot, EveR 6, took the conductor’s podium in Seoul on Friday evening to lead a performance by South Korea’s national orchestra, marking the first such attempt in the country.

The two-armed robot, designed by the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, made its debut at the National Theater of Korea, leading musicians in the country’s national orchestra.

The robot, with a humanoid face, first bowed to the audience and started waving its arms to control the tempo of the live show.

“Movements by a conductor are very detailed,” Choi Soo-yeoul, who led Friday’s performance alongside the robot, said.

“The robot was able to present such detailed moves much better than I had imagined.”

But EveR 6’s “critical weakness,” Choi said, is that it cannot listen.

Lee Young-ju, an audience member who studies traditional Korean music, said the robot’s moves, though impeccable in keeping the rhythm, lacked “breath” – or the ability to keep the orchestra ready to engage collectively and instantly – which he said was essential in performance.

“It seemed there was some work to be done for the robot to do the job,” Lee said.

Song In-ho, 62, another audience member, also said EveR 6’s performance appeared to be at an elementary level.

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“I guess it would be able to do the conducting all by itself when it’s equipped with artificial intelligence to understand and analyse the music,” Song said.

The humanoid robot guided three of five pieces showcased on Friday evening, including one jointly conducted with Choi.

“It was a recital that showed that (robots and humans) can co-exist and complement each other, rather than one replacing the other,” Choi said after the concert.



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