Conference Talk at Soft-Robotics


Conference Presentation

Ken Caluwaerts gives a talk at "Living Machines - Workshop on Soft-Robotics" Title : Locomotion without a brain: morphological computation in tensegrity structures Date: 09/07/2012 Abstract: Embodiment has led to a revolution in robotics by not thinking of the robot body and its controller as two separate units, but by taking into account the interaction of the body with its environment. By more closely investigating the impact of the body on the overall control-computation, it has been suggested that the body is effectively performing computations, leading to the term Morphological Computation. Recent work has linked this to the field of Reservoir Computing allowing to endow morphologies with a theory of universal computation. In this work, we study an exemplar family of highly dynamic body structures, specifically dynamic and actuated tensegrity structures, controlled by one of the simplest kinds of “brains”. By investigating this extreme instantiation, we clearly demonstrate the existence of a spectrum of choices in how control can be implemented in the body-brain composite. To demonstrate the computational possibilities, we train class-1 tensegrity structures for locomotion using simple linear learning techniques. By doing so, not only can the control be simplified, but it intrinsically can integrate feedback from the environment. Different online learning techniques are studied, differing in biologically plausibility. We show how actuated tensegrity structures can maintain stable gaits with simple linear state feedback.

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