Using Biological Inspiration to Build Artificial Life That Locomotes

  • Robert J. Full
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2217)


Nature’s general principles can provide biological inspiration for robotic designs. Biological inspiration in the form of genetic programming and algorithms has already shown utility for automated design. However, reliance on evolutionary processes mimicking nature will not necessarily result in designs better than what human engineers can do. Biological evolution is more like a tinkerer than an engineer. Natural selection is constrained to work with pre-existing materials inherited from an ancestor. Engineers can start from scratch and select optimal raw materials and tools for the task desired. Nature provides useful hints of what is possible and design ideas that may have escaped our consideration. The discovery of general biological design principles requires a collapse of dimensions in complex systems. Reducing redundancies by seeking synergies yields simple, general principles that can provide inspiration. Even if we had all the general biological principles, we don’t have the technology to use them effectively. Information handling has changed dramatically, but until recently the final effectors (metal beams and electric motors) have not. Nature will become an increasingly more useful teacher as human technology takes on more of the characteristics of nature. The design of artificial life will require unprecedented interdisciplinary integration.


Surf Zone Design Idea Dielectric Elastomer Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Evolutionary Robotic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Altendorfer, R., Saranli, U., Komsuoglu, H., Koditschek, Brown Jr., B.H., Buehler, M., Moore, N., McMordie, D. and Full, R.J.: Evidence for Spring Loaded Inverted Pendulum Running in a Hexapod Robot. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Experimental Robotics, Honolulu, HI, (2000)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Autumn, K., Liang, Y., Hsieh, T., Zesch, W., Chan, W.-P., Kenny T., Fearing, R., and Full, R.J.: Adhesive force of a single gecko foot-hair. Nature 405 (2000) 681–685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bailey, S.A., Cham, J.G., Cutkosky, M.R., and Full, R.J.: Biomimetic Robotic Mechanisms via Shape Deposition Manufacturing. In Robotics Research: the Ninth International Symposium. (eds. J. Hollerbach and D. Koditschek), Springer-Verlag, London (2000) 403–410.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brooks, R.A., Breazeal, C., Irie, R., Kemp, C.C., Marjanovic, M., Scassellati, B. and Williamson, M.M.: Alternative essences of intelligence. Tenth Conference on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Proceedings of the Fifteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence: AAAI Press/MIT Press, (1998) 961–968Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dickinson, M.H., Farley, C.T., Full, R.J., Koehl, M.A. R., Kram R. and Lehman, S.: How animals move: An integrative view. Science 288 (2000) 100–106Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dickinson, Michael H., Lehmann, Fritz-Olaf and Sane, Sanjay P.: Wing rotation and the aerodynamic basis of insect flight. Science 284 (1999) 1954–1960Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Floreano, D. and Urzelai. J.: Evolutionary robots: the next generation. Evolutionary Robotics. In T. Gomi (Ed.), Evolutionary Robotics III, Ontario (Canada): AAI Books. (2000)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Full, R.J.: Biological inspiration: Lessons from many-legged locomotors. In: Robotics Research 9th International Symposium. J. Hollerbach and D. Koditschek (Eds), Springer-Verlag London, (2000) 337–341Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Full, R.J.: Mechanics and energetics of terrestrial locomotion: From bipeds to polypeds. In: Energy Transformation in Cells and Animals. (ed. W. Wieser and E. Gnaiger). Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart. (1989) 175–182 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Full, R.J. and Koditschek, D.E.: Templates and Anchors-Neuromechanical hypotheses of legged locomotion on land. J. exp Bio. 202 (1999) 3325–3332.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Full, R.J. and Meijer, K.: Metrics of Natural muscle. In: Electro Active Polymers (EAP) as Artificial Muscles, Reality Potential and Challenges. (ed. Y. Bar-Cohen), SPIE & William Andrew/Noyes Publications (2001)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Full, R.J. and Tu, M.S.: The mechanics of six-legged runners. J. exp. Biol. 148 (1990) 129–146.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Full, R.J. and Tu, M.S.: Mechanics of rapid running insects: two-, four-, and sixlegged locomotion. J. exp Bio. 156 (1991) 215–231Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Garland, T., Jr.: Testing the predictions of symmorphosis: conceptual and methodological issues. Pages 40–47 in Principles of Animal Design: The Optimization and Symmorphosis Debate, E. R. Weibel, L. Bolis, and C. R. Taylor, eds. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, U.K. (1998)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Greiner, H., Shectman, A., Chikyung Won, Elsley, R. and Beith, P.: Autonomous legged underwater vehicles for near land warfare. Proceedings of Symposium on Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Technology, New York, NY: IEEE, (1996). p.41–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jacob, F.: Evolution and tinkering. Science 196 (1977) 1161–1166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kubow, T. M. and R.J. Full. The role of the mechanical system in control: A hypothesis of self-stabilization in hexapedal runners. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London B. 354 (1999) 849–862Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lipson, H. and Pollack, J.B.: Automatic design and manufacture of robotic lifeforms Nature 406 (2000) 974–978Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Martinez, M.M., Full, R.J. and Koehl, M.A.R.: Underwater punting by an intertidal crab: a novel gait revealed by the kinematics of pedestrian locomotion in air versus water. J. exp Bio. 201 (1998) 2609–2623Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Pelrine, R., Kornbluh, R., Qibing Pei and Joseph, J.: High-speed electrically actuated elastomers with strain greater than 100%. Science 287 (2000) 836–839Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Saranli, U., Buehler, M. and Koditschek, D.E.: Design, modeling and Control of a compliant hexapod robot. In Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. Rob. Aut. (2000) 2589–2596.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Schmitt, J. and Holmes, P.: Mechanical models for insect locomotion: Dynamics and stability in the horizontal plane. I. Theory. In: Biological Cybernetics 83 (2000) 501–515zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Schmitt, J. and Holmes, P.: Mechanical models for insect locomotion: Dynamics and stability in the horizontal plane. II. Application. In: Biological Cybernetics 83 (2000) 517–527.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Vogel, S.: Cats’ P aws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People. New York: Norton, (1998). 382 ppGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Full
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations