Video4_Adaptive Centipede Walking via Synergetic Coupling Between Decentralized Control and Flexible Body Dynamics.MOV (4.63 MB)
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Video4_Adaptive Centipede Walking via Synergetic Coupling Between Decentralized Control and Flexible Body Dynamics.MOV

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posted on 05.04.2022, 04:35 authored by Kotaro Yasui, Shunsuke Takano, Takeshi Kano, Akio Ishiguro

Multi-legged animals such as myriapods can locomote on unstructured rough terrain using their flexible bodies and legs. This highly adaptive locomotion emerges through the dynamic interactions between an animal’s nervous system, its flexible body, and the environment. Previous studies have primarily focused on either adaptive leg control or the passive compliance of the body parts and have shown how each enhanced adaptability to complex terrains in multi-legged locomotion. However, the essential mechanism considering both the adaptive locomotor circuits and bodily flexibility remains unclear. In this study, we focused on centipedes and aimed to understand the well-balanced coupling between the two abovementioned mechanisms for rough terrain walking by building a neuromechanical model based on behavioral findings. In the behavioral experiment, we observed a centipede walking when part of the terrain was temporarily removed and thereafter restored. We found that the ground contact sense of each leg was essential for generating rhythmic leg motions and also for establishing adaptive footfall patterns between adjacent legs. Based on this finding, we proposed decentralized control mechanisms using ground contact sense and implemented them into a physical centipede model with flexible bodies and legs. In the simulations, our model self-organized the typical gait on flat terrain and adaptive walking during gap crossing, which were similar to centipedes. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the locomotor performance deteriorated on rough terrain when adaptive leg control was removed or when the body was rigid, which indicates that both the adaptive leg control and the flexible body are essential for adaptive locomotion. Thus, our model is expected to capture the possible essential mechanisms underlying adaptive centipede walking and pave the way for designing multi-legged robots with high adaptability to irregular terrain.

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