Motivated by the biological observation that cockroaches frequently move dynamically, we have created several cockroach simulations to investigate cockroach locomotion. Our approach has been to create models of cockroaches that capture various elements of their design, to build control systems that regulate locomotion behavior, and to simulate the controlled models using numerical methods. Using these tools we have demonstrated some viable techniques for cockroach locomotion.
We created three models of the cockroach at cockroach scale and built control systems that made them walk and run. We call these models the Hexahopper, Hexabug, and Playback Cockroach. The control systems for the Hexahopper and Hexabug use finite state machines and algorithms for support, balance, and posture to produce a six-legged alternating tripod gait. They build on previous work done in the Leg Lab based on algorithms for regulating support, balance, and posture. A third computer simulation, the Playback Cockroach, is based on two kinds of data obtained from animal cockroaches: data describing the geometry of each leg link was obtained from histology, and data for kinematic motion of the limbs during locomotion was obtained from high-speed film. Results from this simulation suggest that it is feasible for cockroaches to locomote dynamically, but they do not need to actively balance.
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