A robot dog learned to walk on her own in one hour

A robot dog learned to walk on her own in one hour

How do animal reflexes allow them to learn how to walk in such a short time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Intellectual Systems have studied this question, but they did not use biology but robotics to answer this question. They developed a robot for research that could learn to walk in just one hour without pre-education.

This led to the creation of Morty, a robot dog designed to study the development of walking in young animals. ", explains Alexander Badri-Sprövics, co-author of the publication, in a statement by the Institute.

Of course, scientists already know a lot about animal motor function. As noted in the press release, animals are born with muscle coordination networks embedded in the spinal cord, so they learn very quickly to walk away from predators. First they rely on these few basic data, but they allow them to start moving. Later, they learn to coordinate their muscles and tendons more closely. Their movements are gradually becoming more smooth, but this requires practice.

Scientists argue that these two phases are driven by two mechanisms.

Specifically, the Central Pattern Generator is operating on a flat surface without obstacles. Reflexes are working on something unusual, deeper, pushy, etc. A newborn animal is still poorly adapted, and the animal stumbles, whether on a flat or uneven surface. In time, it learns how its reflexes and "core pathers" control its movements and improves. In other words, field experience gradually adjusts previous walking data. However, it is not easy to know the details of this operation. So scientists have decided to use robotics.

"," explains Felix Ruppert, one of the authors of the paper. So they connected the basic program to the machine learning algorithm. In other words, they started with the creation of a virtual spinal cord that they attached to the head of a robot dog.

Thus, the learning algorithm allowed the sensory information to be compared with the robot's basic program in order to gradually improve its capabilities. A robot dog created by researchers was able to learn how to walk as animals and even faster than an animal because it took only one hour to achieve a good coordination of movements. During this time, the data from the foot sensors were constantly compared to the landing predicted by the robot CST. When the robot stumbled, the algorithm adapted the speed of the foot, distance, duration of contact with the ground, etc.

"" says scientists.