In biological systems, the task of computing a gait trajectory is shared between the biomechanical and nervous systems. We take the perspective that both of these seemingly different computations are examples of physical computation. Here we describe the progress that has been made toward building a minimal biped system that illustrates this idea. We embed a significant portion of the computation in physical devices, such as capacitors and transistors, to underline the potential power of emphasizing the understanding of physical computation. We describe results in the exploitation of physical computation by (1) using a passive knee to assist in dynamics computation, (2) using an oscillator to drive a monoped mechanism based on the passive knee, (3) using sensory entrainment to coordinate the mechanics with the neural oscillator, (4) coupling two such systems together mechanically at the hip and computationally via the resulting two oscillators to create a biped mechanism, and (5) demonstrating the resulting gait generation in the biped mechanism.
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Received: 31 October 2001 / Accepted in revised form: 17 September 2002
Correspondence to: M.A. Lewis
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Lewis, M., Etienne-Cummings, R., Hartmann, M. et al. An in silico central pattern generator: silicon oscillator, coupling, entrainment, and physical computation. Biol. Cybern. 88, 137–151 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00422-002-0365-7