Never mind Daft Punk, here’s an actual band made of robots

zmachineSure, most people would say that the massive success of French dance act Daft Punk is that their music is so ridiculously catchy. Anyone who says that “Get Lucky” didn’t take up temporary residence inside their head after just one listen is either severely mistaken or outright lying, let’s be honest. But it’s arguable that their whole schtick of always wearing robot helmets has helped them get where they are, as well. After all, by pretending to be robots, the band manages to sidestep many of the drawbacks that most bands face – No chance of an embarrassing interview in which someone says something to embarrass themselves, or ruin the band for some sensitive fans! – while also delivering both a memorable visual and aural hook for those seeking to write about the band. Clearly, more bands should pretend to be robots.

Or, perhaps, more bands should actually be robots. Take, for example, Z-Machines. It’s a Japanese three-piece made up entirely of automatons that made its live debut in a popular Tokyo club this Monday in front of an eager audience of curious onlookers and excitable reporters.

The band is the creation  – literally – of Yoichiro Kawaguchi, an IT professor at the University of Tokyo, and mechanical designer Naofumi Yonetsuka, and is made up of drummer Ashura (with a sound that, according to Yonetsuka, is “the equivalent of four people playing drums”), keyboard player Cosmo, and guitarist Mach.

Ashura’s wonderfully over-the-top design – with six arms, “he” is able to play 22 drums simultaneously – is far from unique within the band. Mach has 78 fingers (and 12 picks), allowing him to manage guitar tricks that even Jimmy Page would have trouble mastering, whereas Cosmo is literally wired into his keyboard. Despite all of these technological advantages, there was still something that Z-Machines found itself lacking, however: a lead vocalist.

Filling that void for the band’s debut live performance on Monday was Amoyamo, a popular Japanese musical duo made up of two models call Amo and Ayamo. Together, the temporary five piece performed a new song called “Post People, Post Party” written especially for the occasion by DJ Tasaka, a famous electronic musician in Japan. Talking to press after the event, Tasaka said that he had originally planned to write something that sounded traditionally “disco-electro” for the band, but once he saw the robots in action, he came up with “a much more complicated piece, thinking, take that.” He added, “But then they were able to play it.”

Discussing the origins of Z-Machines, Kawaguchi said that he wanted to create something new, futuristic, and exciting with the band, and hinted at the new frontiers awaiting them in gigs to come. “My goal is to have [the band] play in outer space someday,” he said. As DJ Tasaka would say, take that, Daft Punk.

Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Computing

Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier module is designed to give robots better brains

Nvidia's pricey Jetson AGX Xavier might help drive the next generation of smart robots. Nvidia hopes that developers will use its new Xavier module to power AI-driven machines like delivery drones and robots used in manufacturing.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.