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Natural Computing

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 311–337 | Cite as

Reflex-oscillations in evolved single leg neurocontrollers for walking machines

  • Arndt von Twickel
  • Frank Pasemann
Article

Abstract

As a prerequisite for developing neural control for walking machines that are able to autonomously navigate through rough terrain, artificial structure evolution is used to generate various single leg controllers. The structure and dynamical properties of the evolved (recurrent) neural networks are then analysed to identify elementary mechanisms of sensor-driven walking behaviour. Based on the biological understanding that legged locomotion implies a highly decentralised and modular control, neuromodules for single, morphological distinct legs of a hexapod walking machine were developed by using a physical simulation. Each of the legs has three degrees of freedom (DOF). The presented results demonstrate how extremely small reflex-oscillators, which inherently rely on the sensorimotor loop and e.g. hysteresis effects, generate effective locomotion. Varying the fitness function by randomly changing the environmental conditions during evolution, neural control mechanisms are identified which allow for robust and adaptive locomotion. Relations to biological findings are discussed.

Keywords

artificial evolution modular locomotion control neural control neurodynamics reflex-oscillators walking machines 

Abbreviations

AEP

Anterior extreme position

CPG

Central pattern generator

CT

Coxa-trochanter

DOF

Degrees of freedom

FL

Fore-leg

FT

Femur-tibia

HL

Hind-leg

ML

Middle-leg

PEP

Posterior extreme position

TC

Thorax-coxa

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Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Martin Hülse, Steffen Wischmann and Keyan Zahedi for providing the evolution environment ISEE, Manfred Hild, Niko Kladt and Hans-Georg Heinzel for carefully reading and commenting on an earlier draft of this paper and an anonymous reviewer for valuable comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fraunhofer Institute AISSankt AugustinGermany

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