A bioinspired autonomous swimming robot as a tool for studying goal-directed locomotion
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- Manfredi, L., Assaf, T., Mintchev, S. et al. Biol Cybern (2013) 107: 513. doi:10.1007/s00422-013-0566-2
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The bioinspired approach has been key in combining the disciplines of robotics with neuroscience in an effective and promising fashion. Indeed, certain aspects in the field of neuroscience, such as goal-directed locomotion and behaviour selection, can be validated through robotic artefacts. In particular, swimming is a functionally important behaviour where neuromuscular structures, neural control architecture and operation can be replicated artificially following models from biology and neuroscience. In this article, we present a biomimetic system inspired by the lamprey, an early vertebrate that locomotes using anguilliform swimming. The artefact possesses extra- and proprioceptive sensory receptors, muscle-like actuation, distributed embedded control and a vision system. Experiments on optimised swimming and on goal-directed locomotion are reported, as well as the assessment of the performance of the system, which shows high energy efficiency and adaptive behaviour. While the focus is on providing a robotic platform for testing biological models, the reported system can also be of major relevance for the development of engineering system applications.