Digital Creatures Learn To Walk | Two Minute Papers #8

Dear Fellow Scholars this is Two Minute
Papers with Károly Zsolnai-Fehér. First of all thanks so much for watching
Two Minute Papers. You Fellow Scholars have been an amazing and supportive audience.
We just started but the series already has a steady following and I’m super
excited to see that! It is also great that the helpful and respectful
community has formed in the comments section. It’s really cool to discuss these
results and possibly come up with cool new ideas together. In this episode we’re
going to set foot in computer animation. Imagine that we have built bipedal
creatures in a modeling program. We have the geometry down but it is not nearly
enough to animate them in a way that looks physically plausible. We have to go
one step beyond and define the bones and the routing of muscles inside their
bodies. If we want them to walk we also need to specify how these
muscles should be controlled during this process. This work presents a novel
algorithm that takes many tries to build a new muscle routing and progressively
improving the results. It also deals with the control of all of these muscles. For
instance, one quickly needs to discover that the neck muscles cannot move
arbitrarily or they will fail to support the head and the whole character will
collapse in a very amusing manner. When talking about things like this scientists often use the term “degrees
of freedom” to define the number of independent ways a dynamic system can move.
Building a system that is stable and uses a minimal amount of energy for
locomotion is incredibly challenging. You can see that even the most miniscule
change will collapse the system that previously worked perfectly. The fact
that we can walk and move around unharmed can be attributed to the
unbelievable efficiency of evolution. The difficulty of this problem is further
magnified by the fact that many possible body compositions and setups exist. Many of which are quite challenging to hold together while moving. And, even if we solve this problem,
walking at a given target speed is one thing. What about higher target speeds? In this
work the resulting muscle setups can deal with different target speeds, uneven terrain, and.. hmm.. other unpleasant difficulties. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you
next time!

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