Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Just a Lego robot strumming a ukulele

Even a collection of plastic blocks needs to get on island time once in a while

The ukelele robot is ready to be the soundtrack to your automated credit card commercials and wistful short films.
The ukelele robot is ready to be the soundtrack to your automated credit card commercials and wistful short films.
Screenshot: FuzzyBrick

While many of us spent our youth looking at Lego blocks as ways to build questionably designed little houses or as fascinating objects to stuff into our noses, they’re also, it turns out, capable of serving as excellent musical tools. YouTube’s FuzzyBrick, not willing to let the Lego company corner the market on calming plastic soundscapes, has proved this point by creating a ukulele robot that uses the power of toy blocks to automatically play Elvis covers.

The video shows a ukulele covered in Mindstorms Lego blocks and connectors—as if it’s halfway through being subsumed by a gentle, beach-loving version of the Borg. As promised in the title, its plastic exoskeleton moves on its own to play through the verse of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by pressing down on the right frets and whirring around to strum the strings on its own.

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In the description, FuzzyBrick writes that the robot is currently capable of playing a C, F, G, and E and A minor chords. Getting to this point “took almost a month working on weekends and [a] couple of hours on weekdays,” and presented technical challenges like “getting the string to be properly pressed down,” “strum timing,” and making sure the gears turned properly to power the whole thing.

“I must say human hands are still far superior than machine when it comes to creativity and flexibility,” they write, which is heartening to those of us who would like the robots to lag behind our species in dexterity and complex thought for as long as possible.

Still, our advantage won’t last forever. The video’s description states “Watch out for more ‘performances’” as if to warn us—and the world’s foremost ukulele orchestra—that our time as the planet’s top strummers is about to come to an end.

[via Boing Boing]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.