Senior Design Projects: Ravi-bot

Today I was invited back to UPENN to sit as a judge on the engineering school annual senior design project contest. It was a good time. It was the first time I had been to an event like this since presenting my undergraduate senior project almost twenty years ago (it pains me to type that).

The projects came from every department at SEAS, the presentations were really well done, and it was a pleasure to participate and learn from these gifted students. One project that was particularly fun and creative was the Ravi-bot; a sitar-playing robot who’s claim to fame is the ability to play improvisationally in a manner consistent with a skilled human sitar player. The team not only built the robot sitar, but they encoded traditional sitar phrasings and then developed a set of heuristics for semi-randoml phrase selection; where the next phrase selected has a relationship that is suitable and consistent with those already played.

The project is a really nice mix of left brain and right brain thinking.

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