Robots may not yet surpass the piano-playing skills of master musicians, but they can at least blow a few piano students out of the water. And the latest musical robots aren’t priceless models out of big corporate R&D departments. They’re hacked together from off-the-shelf toys, use cheap parts, and are assembled with instructions you can grab free off the Internet. Now, what was that about the age of DIY being dead again? (Sorry, Radio Shack; maybe it just moved to Toys ‘R Us.)
Behold a programmable robot made of K’nex interchangeable toys. Recently featured on the how-to site Instructables, this robot can play simple musical sequences. Toys, as always, make for great rapid prototyping: this project makes use of an intelligent base unit and a system of interchangeable building blocks that make the design both easy to build and easy for others to replicate. It’s proof positive that while the digital age may tend to the virtual, mechanical invention still has plenty of room. And, hey, if this seems too advanced, there’s always the K’nex music stand project.