While we Yes Having seen eel-like swimming robots before, they tend to simply copy the movements of their biological counterparts. AgnathaX is different, in that it uses simulated central and peripheral nervous systems for more powerful performance.
Inspired by the light-bellied fish, AgnathaX was developed through a collaboration between scientists at Switzerland’s EPFL University, Japan’s Tohoku University, France’s Institut Mines-Télécom Atlantique and Sherbrooke’s University. Canada. It is designed to explore how the central and peripheral nervous systems of animals contribute to locomotion.
In the past, some scientists thought that the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) was primarily responsible, as it generated the signals to move the animal’s legs, fins or wings in a rhythmic pattern. . However, others believe that the peripheral nervous system (the nerves that connect the body’s limbs to the brain) plays a larger role, since the nerves in the moving limbs generate signals feedback to keep the rhythm going.
In fact, both nervous systems are important for locomotion, which AgnathaX helped demonstrate.
The articulated robot consists of 10 linked segments, each containing a motor that acts like the muscles of a real falcon. A microprocessor integrated in the central nervous system, by sequentially activating the motors to create an undulating swimming motion. Force sensors located on either side of each segment simulate the peripheral nervous system, by sensing how much juice is applied to the segment as it moves. In real light bulbs, the pressure-sensitive cells in the skin also serve the same purpose.
When a motion tracking system was used to analyze the robot’s movements as it swam through a pool, the researchers found that it worked best when both nervous systems worked together. That said, when the scientists cut communication between several segments (simulating spinal cord injury), the feedback provided by the force sensor was still sufficient to maintain the overall swimming pattern. The robot can also continue to swim when those sensors are disabled, relying solely on the rhythms generated by its “brain”.
EPFL’s Dr Kamilo Melo said: “By drawing on a combination of central and peripheral components, the robot is able to resist a greater number of neural disruptions and continue swimming at high speeds, as opposed to robots that have only one type of component,” author of a paper on the study. “We also found that force sensors in the robot’s skin, along with the physical interactions of the robot’s body and water, provide useful signals for generating and synchronizing rhythmic muscle activity. necessary for movement.”
Now, it is hoped that the team’s discovery could lead to more powerful robots – for use in applications such as search and rescue or environmental monitoring – or even to improve methods. Treatment of human spinal cord injury.
The article was recently published in the journal Robotics Science. AgnathaX can be seen in action in the video below.
Swimming robot offers new insight into locomotion and neuroscience