Octavio - Neurocybernetics of a multilegged walking machine
The Octavio project relies on a tight interaction between (neuro-)biology and
robotics to gain new insights into the principles underlying adaptive and
multifunctional control of walking in biology as well as in robotics.
It is based upon the concept of cybernetically
equivalent processes in
biology and technology. The project consists of four parts: 1. the physical
walking machine Octavio, 2. neural control consisting of evolved
neural networks and/or functional cybernetic models, derived from the
(neuro-)biology of the stick insect, 3. biological-experiments,
and 4. embedding results in a neurocybernetics theory.
The walking machine Octavio was designed as a modular machine in the sense
that its legs constitute autonomous units which may be attached to diversly
shaped torsi in an arbitrary number. Each leg has sensori-motor control over
its three joints, multiple exo- and proprioceptors as well as its own energy
supply. Legs attached to a common body communicate via a simple bus-system.
High-level control systems that do not participate in the mere walking
and which might use additional external sensors. e.g. cameras, are placed
inside the torso.
Initially -- by using a physical simulation of the realised walking
machine with given morphology (e.g. 4-, 6-, 8-legged) -- evolutionary methods
are employed to develop neuro-control structures for single legs. Suitable
neuro-controllers are then implemented and tested on the physical machine. In
parallel functional cybernetic models of the nervous system of the stick
insect are evaluated in simulation and on the physical machine.
By comparing functional models for locomotion control deduced from the living
organisms with those derived from evolution of artificial neuro-controllers
the following benefits are expected: 1. development of a highly-efficient
walking machine and corresponding neural control, 2. new basic principles of
neural control of locomotion in the sensori-motor loop, 3. hypotheses that
lead to new experiments in (neuro-)biology and 4. an embedding in the context
of neuro-cybernetical theory of the nervous system.
Arndt von Twickel
Physiology lab in Cologne (Prof. Dr. Ansgar Büschges).