Not content to fight the good fight in the automotive marketplace, Toyota and Honda are now competing for the “most musically gifted robot” world title.

It’s Partner versus ASIMO

Toyota Partner Robot

Here in Detroit at, we all know that Toyota’s Partner Robot took the first round at the 2008 SAE World Congress. Once it emerged from behind the curtain and walked on stage, it had the entire audience of engineers mesmerized while it played three different melodies in a jazzy kind of rendition.

Honda’s ASIMO ups the ante

Honda ASIMO Robot

Not to be outdone, the folks at Honda have upped the ante in a big way. In addition to being seen daily at Disneyland (who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me!), their ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) robot is about to make its debut as guest conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) with esteemed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Try topping that,Toyota.

Kudos to Honda

In all seriousness, the robot’s appearance is designed to focus attention on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s music programs for young people in Detroit and is part of Honda’s $1 million commitment to create The Power of Dreams Music Education Fund. Honda has partnered with the DSO to develop a program that gives Detroit Public School students the opportunity to learn to play instruments, read music, and participate in bands or orchestras.

When and Where

The concert will take place on May 13th at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall and it appears that it will be a sell-out. There will also be a special concert the next day for students from three of Detroit’s magnet high schools as well as other schools from the metro area including Windsor, Canada. This will be followed by a master class where select students will receive personal music instruction from Yo-Yo Ma.

The Bottom Line

Here at, we feel fortunate to live and work in the Detroit metro area. While the economy is down all over the U.S., the Michigan economy has been hit the hardest and has suffered the longest. With all the cutbacks, it’s heartening to see the contributions of Honda and all the automakers as they give back to a community that has contributed so much to the auto industry.