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Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/app8010006

A Synthetic Nervous System Controls a Simulated Cockroach

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
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Received: 14 November 2017 / Revised: 19 December 2017 / Accepted: 19 December 2017 / Published: 22 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Inspired Robotics)
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Abstract

The purpose of this work is to better understand how animals control locomotion. This knowledge can then be applied to neuromechanical design to produce more capable and adaptable robot locomotion. To test hypotheses about animal motor control, we model animals and their nervous systems with dynamical simulations, which we call synthetic nervous systems (SNS). However, one major challenge is picking parameter values that produce the intended dynamics. This paper presents a design process that solves this problem without the need for global optimization. We test this method by selecting parameter values for SimRoach2, a dynamical model of a cockroach. Each leg joint is actuated by an antagonistic pair of Hill muscles. A distributed SNS was designed based on pathways known to exist in insects, as well as hypothetical pathways that produced insect-like motion. Each joint’s controller was designed to function as a proportional-integral (PI) feedback loop and tuned with numerical optimization. Once tuned, SimRoach2 walks through a simulated environment, with several cockroach-like features. A model with such reliable low-level performance is necessary to investigate more sophisticated locomotion patterns in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: synthetic nervous systems; muscle control; joint control; inter-leg coordination; cockroach; animat; neuromechanical model; insect locomotion synthetic nervous systems; muscle control; joint control; inter-leg coordination; cockroach; animat; neuromechanical model; insect locomotion
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Rubeo, S.; Szczecinski, N.; Quinn, R. A Synthetic Nervous System Controls a Simulated Cockroach. Appl. Sci. 2018, 8, 6.

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