ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A professor of musical technology at Georgia Tech, Gil Weinberg, enlisted the support of graduate student Scott Driscoll to create Haile -- the first truly robotic musician. In this way, he became a sort of Geppetto creating his musical Pinocchio.
"Computers have been playing music for 50 years," Driscoll said. "But we wanted to create something that didn't just play back what it heard, but play off it, too."
Think of Haile (pronounced Hi-lee) as a robotic partner in the percussion form of dueling banjos. Although it has numerous musical algorithms programmed into it, Haile's basic function is to "listen" to what musicians are playing and play along with them. (Watch as Haile keeps the beat -- 5:11)
If the musicians change the beat or rhythm, Haile is right there with them.
"With Haile there are two levels of musical knowledge .... The basic level is to teach it to learn to identify music, to imitate," Weinberg said.
"The higher level is stability of rhythm, to be able to distinguish between similar rhythms. In essence, Haile has the ability to recognize if a rhythm is more chaotic or stable, and can adjust its playing accordingly."
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