A Neural Circuit for Acoustic Navigation Combining Heterosynaptic and Non-synaptic Plasticity That Learns Stable Trajectories

  • Danish ShaikhEmail author
  • Poramate Manoonpong
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 744)


Reactive spatial robot navigation in goal-directed tasks such as phonotaxis requires generating consistent and stable trajectories towards an acoustic target while avoiding obstacles. High-level goal-directed steering behaviour can steer a robot towards the target by mapping sound direction information to appropriate wheel velocities. However, low-level obstacle avoidance behaviour based on distance sensors may significantly alter wheel velocities and temporarily direct the robot away from the sound source, creating conflict between the two behaviours. How can such a conflict in reactive controllers be resolved in a manner that generates consistent and stable robot trajectories? We propose a neural circuit that minimises this conflict by learning sensorimotor mappings as neuronal transfer functions between the perceived sound direction and wheel velocities of a simulated non-holonomic mobile robot. These mappings constitute the high-level goal-directed steering behaviour. Sound direction information is obtained from a model of the lizard peripheral auditory system. The parameters of the transfer functions are learned via an online unsupervised correlation learning algorithm through interaction with obstacles in the form of low-level obstacle avoidance behaviour in the environment. The simulated robot is able to navigate towards a virtual sound source placed 3 m away that continuously emits a tone of frequency 2.2 kHz, while avoiding randomly placed obstacles in the environment. We demonstrate through two independent trials in simulation that in both cases the neural circuit learns consistent and stable trajectories as compared to navigation without learning.


Behaviour-based robotics Reactive navigation Phonotaxis Lizard peripheral auditory system Synaptic plasticity Correlation-based learning 



This research was supported with a grant for the SMOOTH project (project number 6158-00009B) by Innovation Fund Denmark.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Embodied AI and Neurorobotics Laboratory, Centre for BioRobotics, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moeller InstituteUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark

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