The Road Less Travelled: Morphology in the Optimization of Biped Robot Locomotion
Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2001. Proceedings. 2001 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, 1, 226-232, 2001
Abstract: In this paper, stable bipedal locomotion has been achieved using coupled evolution of morphology and control on a 5-link biped robot in a physics- based simulation environment. The robot was controlled by a closed loop recurrent neural network controller. The goal was to study the effect of macroscopic, midrange and microscopic changes in mass distribution along the biped skeleton to ascertain whether optimal morphology and control pairs could be discovered. The sensor-motor coupling determined that small changes in morphology manifest themselves as large changes in the performance of the biped, which were exploited by the optimization process. In this way, mechanical design and controller optimization were reduced to a single process, and more mutually optimized designs resulted. This work points to alternative routes for efficient automated and manual biped optimization.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).