Transcript of “A robot that runs and swims like a salamander”

Posted: March 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript: Roboticist Auke Ijspeert designs biorobots, machines modeled after real animals that are capable of handling complex terrain and would appear at home in the pages of a sci-fi novel. The process of creating these robots leads to better automata that can be used for fieldwork, service, and search and rescue. But these robots don’t just mimic the natural world — they help us understand our own biology better, unlocking previously unknown secrets of the spinal cord.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.ted.com

The four components information is fascinating. It’s not what we were taught about the spinal cord when I was a kid, that there is more going on in the spine than just “reflexes”: 
“There are four main components behind animal locomotion. The first component is just the body, and in fact we should never underestimate to what extent the biomechanics already simplify locomotion in animals. Then you have the spinal cord, and in the spinal cord you find reflexes, multiple reflexes that create a sensorimotor coordination loop between neural activity in the spinal cord and mechanical activity. A third component are central pattern generators. These are very interesting circuits in the spinal cord of vertebrate animals that can generate, by themselves, very coordinated rhythmic patterns of activity while receiving only very simple input signals. And these input signals coming from descending modulation from higher parts of the brain, like the motor cortex, the cerebellum, the basal ganglia, will all modulate activity of the spinal cord while we do locomotion. But what’s interesting is to what extent just a low-level component, the spinal cord, together with the body, already solve a big part of the locomotion problem. You probably know it by the fact that you can cut the head off a chicken, it can still run for a while, showing that just the lower part, spinal cord and body, already solve a big part of locomotion.” (excerpt)

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