Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

mardi 20 janvier 2004

In "Robot belly-dancer shakes her stuff," Nature says that a belly-dancing robot, inspired by Lucy Liu in the film Charlie's Angels, and built by Jimmy Or of Waseda University in Tokyo, is controlled by a computer program mimicking a lamprey, a kind of primitive eel.

She can shimmy, she can roll, she can backbend. She even sports a teasing, low-slung skirt around her waist. But the performer of these undulations is no fleshy temptress. Instead, she is a belly-dancing robot whose moves are driven by the wriggles of a fish.

Here is a picture of Jimmy Or's belly-dancing robot (Copyright Jimmy Or).

Jimmy Or's belly-dancing robot

Now, let's look at some technical details.

To generate the robot's undulations, Or borrowed a computer program built by Swedish researchers that simulates a network of nerves in the lamprey called a central pattern generator (CPG). The CPG directs the lamprey's movements without the help of the brain or sensory feedback.
Similar nerve networks are thought to exist in most vertebrates. In chickens, it is a CPG that allows a headless bird to briefly sprint around the yard before keeling over, for example. In humans, a CPG is thought to produce an automatic walking motion in toddlers or people who have had spinal-cord injuries when they are placed on a treadmill.

Here is Or's conclusion.

Or admits that he made Waseda Belly Dancer No. 1 partly as an entertainment; he is currently refining its workings and choosing some fetching jewellery for it. But he maintains that robots with a flexible spine have a future. "A robot that can bow is very important in Japanese society," Or says.

Back when he was at the University of Edinburgh, Or published with some of his colleagues a technical paper about the lamprey, "Evolution of efficient swimming controllers for a simulated lamprey." Here is the abstract.

This paper investigates the evolutionary design of efficient connectionist swimming controllers for a simulated lamprey. Efficiency is defined as the ratio of forward swimming speed to backward mechanical wave speed.Using the lamprey model proposed by Ekeberg (1993) and extending the work of Ijspeert et al. (1999) on evolving lamprey swimming central pattern generators (CPGs) through genetic algorithms (GAs), we investigate the space of possible neural configurations which satisfies the property of high swimming efficiency. Techniques are devised to measure efficiency at various swimming speeds. The measurements are incorporated into the fitness function of Ijspeert's original GA and efficient controllers are evolved. Interestingly, the best evolved controller not only is capable of swimming in a similar manner to the real lamprey, but also with the same efficiency (about 0.8). Moreover, it can exhibit a wide range of controllable speeds and efficiencies.

Source: Helen Pearson, Nature, January 20, 2004

12:32:35 PM   Permalink   Comments []   Trackback []  

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2004 Roland Piquepaille.
Last update: 01/11/2004; 08:55:24.

January 2004
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Dec   Feb

Search this blog for

Courtesy of PicoSearch

Supported by

If you're tired to read about technology, it's time to take a break.
Try their exercise and fitness equipment.
Read more

Personal Links

Other Links

Ars Technica
Daily Rotation News
I4U News
Mindjack Daily Relay
Smart Mobs


Paul Boutin
Dan Gillmor
Lawrence Lessig
Jenny Levine
Karlin Lillington
John Robb
Dolores Tam
Jon Udell
Dave Winer

Drop me a note via Radio
Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

E-mail me directly at

Subscribe to this weblog
Subscribe to "Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends" in Radio UserLand.

XML Version of this page
Click to see the XML version of this web page.