Mar 222013

22-03-2013 9-48-10 PM

We are glad to show Salamandra robotica II, the new generation of our amphibious salamander-like robot.

The robot is described in an article to appear in the IEEE Transactions in Robotics, and has been invited to the Innorobo 2013 robotics exbibition that takes place from March 19 to March 21 2013  in Lyon.

Compared to its predecessor Salamandra robotica (see below), the new robot swims more than twice as fast, is equiped with foldable limbs, and embarks more powerful microcontrollers that allow distributed computation of our models of spinal cord neural networks as well as the simulation of muscle properties. It is one of the few robots, if not the only one, that can swim, crawl, and walk. Its modular design allow us to rapidly change its morphology (e.g. make it longer, add or remove legs, etc.). Also its modularity means that each module has its own microcontroller, battery, and motors, and therefore we can split the robot in different parts and it would still work. This can have interesting implications in terms of robustness against damage. For instance, the robot could loose parts of its body and still be able to walk. See a movie below.

The primary purpose of this robot is to serve as a scientific tool to test hypotheses about the neural circuits underlying locomotion in the spinal cord of vertebrate animals. For this, we work with neurobiologists, in particular Prof. Jean-Marie Cabelguen from the University of Bordeaux, and make models of the central pattern generators that are known to control locomotion in vertebrate animals. These sophisticated circuits can produce complex locomotor patterns while receiving only simple command signals from upper parts of the brain. Read more about this below (e.g. an article that appeared in Science in 2007).

A second purpose of the robot is to pave the way for amphibious service robots that could be used for inspection tasks or for search-and-rescue missions (e.g. after an earthquake, flood, or mudslide).

Read more . . .


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