Special Issue "Selected Papers from Living Machines 2018"

A special issue of Biomimetics (ISSN 2313-7673).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Paul F.M.J. Verschure

Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS), Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Barcelona, Spain
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Interests: perception; cognition; behavior; robotics
Guest Editor
Dr. Anna Mura

Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS), Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Barcelona, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: brain research
Guest Editor
Dr. Vasiliki Vouloutsi

Synthetic Perceptive Emotive Cognitive Systems (SPECS) group, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Barcelona, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: neuroscience; human–robot interaction; cognitive systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The development of future real-world technologies will depend strongly on our understanding and harnessing of the principles underlying living systems and the flow of communication signals between living and artificial systems.

Living Machines is holding its 7th conference in Paris in July 2018. This international conference is targeted at the intersection of research on novel life-like technologies inspired by the scientific investigation of biological systems (biomimetics), and research that seeks to interface biological and artificial systems to create biohybrid systems with the aim to highlight the most exciting international research in both of these fields united by the theme of “Living Machines”.

This Special Issue is cooperating with the Living Machines 2018 conference (http://www.livingmachinesconference.eu/2018/). Authors of the best poster presentations are invited to submit extended versions of their papers. Authors may consider to contribute an original research article or review in areas related to the conference themes.

Dr. Paul F.M.J. Verschure
Dr. Anna Mura
Dr. Vasiliki Vouloutsi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Biomimetics is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biomimetic robots and their component technologies (sensors, actuators, processors) that can intelligently interact with their environments
  • active biomimetic materials and structures that self-organize and self-repair, nature-inspired designs and manufacturing processes
  • biomimetic computers (neuromimetic emulations of the physiological basis for intelligent behavior)
  • biohybrid brain–machine interfaces and neural implants
  • artificial organs and body-parts including sensory organ–chip hybrids and intelligent prostheses
  • organism-level biohybrids such as robot–animal or robot–human systems

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Implementation of Deep Deterministic Policy Gradients for Controlling Dynamic Bipedal Walking
Biomimetics 2019, 4(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics4010028
Received: 12 November 2018 / Revised: 21 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 March 2019 / Published: 22 March 2019
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Abstract
A control system for bipedal walking in the sagittal plane was developed in simulation. The biped model was built based on anthropometric data for a 1.8 m tall male of average build. At the core of the controller is a deep deterministic policy [...] Read more.
A control system for bipedal walking in the sagittal plane was developed in simulation. The biped model was built based on anthropometric data for a 1.8 m tall male of average build. At the core of the controller is a deep deterministic policy gradient (DDPG) neural network that was trained in GAZEBO, a physics simulator, to predict the ideal foot placement to maintain stable walking despite external disturbances. The complexity of the DDPG network was decreased through carefully selected state variables and a distributed control system. Additional controllers for the hip joints during their stance phases and the ankle joint during toe-off phase help to stabilize the biped during walking. The simulated biped can walk at a steady pace of approximately 1 m/s, and during locomotion it can maintain stability with a 30 kg·m/s impulse applied forward on the torso or a 40 kg·m/s impulse applied rearward. It also maintains stable walking with a 10 kg backpack or a 25 kg front pack. The controller was trained on a 1.8 m tall model, but also stabilizes models 1.4–2.3 m tall with no changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from Living Machines 2018)
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Open AccessArticle Neuromechanical Model of Rat Hindlimb Walking with Two-Layer CPGs
Biomimetics 2019, 4(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics4010021
Received: 12 November 2018 / Revised: 16 February 2019 / Accepted: 19 February 2019 / Published: 1 March 2019
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Abstract
This work demonstrates a neuromechanical model of rat hindlimb locomotion undergoing nominal walking with perturbations. In the animal, two types of responses to perturbations are observed: resetting and non-resetting deletions. This suggests that the animal locomotor system contains a memory-like organization. To model [...] Read more.
This work demonstrates a neuromechanical model of rat hindlimb locomotion undergoing nominal walking with perturbations. In the animal, two types of responses to perturbations are observed: resetting and non-resetting deletions. This suggests that the animal locomotor system contains a memory-like organization. To model this phenomenon, we built a synthetic nervous system that uses separate rhythm generator and pattern formation layers to activate antagonistic muscle pairs about each joint in the sagittal plane. Our model replicates the resetting and non-resetting deletions observed in the animal. In addition, in the intact (i.e., fully afferented) rat walking simulation, we observe slower recovery after perturbation, which is different from the deafferented animal experiment. These results demonstrate that our model is a biologically feasible description of some of the neural circuits in the mammalian spinal cord that control locomotion, and the difference between our simulation and fictive motion shows the importance of sensory feedback on motor output. This model also demonstrates how the pattern formation network can activate muscle synergies in a coordinated way to produce stable walking, which motivates the use of more complex synergies activating more muscles in the legs for three-dimensional limb motion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from Living Machines 2018)
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Open AccessArticle Design and Actuation of a Fabric-Based Worm-Like Robot
Biomimetics 2019, 4(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics4010013
Received: 13 November 2018 / Revised: 2 January 2019 / Accepted: 30 January 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
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Abstract
Soft-bodied animals, such as earthworms, are capable of contorting their body to squeeze through narrow spaces, create or enlarge burrows, and move on uneven ground. In many applications such as search and rescue, inspection of pipes and medical procedures, it may be useful [...] Read more.
Soft-bodied animals, such as earthworms, are capable of contorting their body to squeeze through narrow spaces, create or enlarge burrows, and move on uneven ground. In many applications such as search and rescue, inspection of pipes and medical procedures, it may be useful to have a hollow-bodied robot with skin separating inside and outside. Textiles can be key to such skins. Inspired by earthworms, we developed two new robots: FabricWorm and MiniFabricWorm. We explored the application of fabric in soft robotics and how textile can be integrated along with other structural elements, such as three-dimensional (3D) printed parts, linear springs, and flexible nylon tubes. The structure of FabricWorm consists of one third the number of rigid pieces as compared to its predecessor Compliant Modular Mesh Worm-Steering (CMMWorm-S), while the structure of MiniFabricWorm consists of no rigid components. This article presents the design of such a mesh and its limitations in terms of structural softness. We experimentally measured the stiffness properties of these robots and compared them directly to its predecessors. FabricWorm and MiniFabricWorm are capable of peristaltic locomotion with a maximum speed of 33 cm/min (0.49 body-lengths/min) and 13.8 cm/min (0.25 body-lengths/min), respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from Living Machines 2018)
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Open AccessArticle Analyzing Moment Arm Profiles in a Full-Muscle Rat Hindlimb Model
Biomimetics 2019, 4(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics4010010
Received: 7 November 2018 / Revised: 18 January 2019 / Accepted: 22 January 2019 / Published: 25 January 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (5162 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Understanding the kinematics of a hindlimb model is a fundamental aspect of modeling coordinated locomotion. This work describes the development process of a rat hindlimb model that contains a complete muscular system and incorporates physiological walking data to examine realistic muscle movements during [...] Read more.
Understanding the kinematics of a hindlimb model is a fundamental aspect of modeling coordinated locomotion. This work describes the development process of a rat hindlimb model that contains a complete muscular system and incorporates physiological walking data to examine realistic muscle movements during a step cycle. Moment arm profiles for selected muscles are analyzed and presented as the first steps to calculating torque generation at hindlimb joints. A technique for calculating muscle moment arms from muscle attachment points in a three-dimensional (3D) space has been established. This model accounts for the configuration of adjacent joints, a critical aspect of biarticular moment arm analysis that must be considered when calculating joint torque. Moment arm profiles from isolated muscle motions are compared to two existing models. The dependence of biarticular muscle’s moment arms on the configuration of the adjacent joint is a critical aspect of moment arm analysis that must be considered when calculating joint torque. The variability in moment arm profiles suggests changes in muscle function during a step. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from Living Machines 2018)
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