'Chaotic' way to create insectlike gaits for robots


By using small networks of Rössler systems, a locomotion controller enables a brain-machine interface for a six-legged antlike robot.

Researchers in Japan and Italy are embracing chaos and nonlinear physics to create insectlike gaits for tiny robots -- complete with a locomotion controller to provide a brain-machine interface.

Biology and physics are permeated by universal phenomena fundamentally grounded in nonlinear physics, and it inspired the researchers' work.

In the journal Chaos, from AIP Publishing, the group describes using the Rössler system, a system of three nonlinear differential equations, as a building block for central pattern generators (CPGs) to control the gait of a robotic insect.

"The universal nature of underlying phenomena allowed us to demonstrate that locomotion can be achieved via elementary combinations of Rössler systems, which represent a cornerstone in the history of chaotic systems," said Ludovico Minati, of Tokyo Institute of Technology and the University of Trento.

Phenomena related to synchronization allow the group to create very simple networks that generate complex rhythmic patterns.

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