Modular reactive neurocontrol for biologically inspired walking machines
A neurocontroller is described which generates the basic locomotion and controls the sensor-driven behavior of a four-legged and a six-legged walking machine. The controller utilizes discrete-time neuro-dynamics, and is of modular structure. One module is for processing sensor signals, one is a neural oscillator network serving as a central pattern generator and the third one is a so-called velocity regulating network. These modules are small and their structures and their functionalities are analyzable. In combination, they enable the machines to autonomously explore an unknown environment, to avoid obstacles, and to escape from corners or deadlock situations. The neurocontroller was developed and tested first using a physical simulation environment, and then it was successfully transferred to the physical walking machines. Locomotion is based on a gait where the diagonal legs are paired and move together e.g. trot gait for the four-legged walking machine and tripod gait for the six-legged walking machine. The controller developed is universal in the sense that it can easily be adapted to different types of even-legged walking machines without changing the internal structure and its parameters.