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Biol Cybern. 2013 Aug;107(4):397-419. doi: 10.1007/s00422-013-0563-5. Epub 2013 Jul 4.

Walknet, a bio-inspired controller for hexapod walking.

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Department of Biological Cybernetics and Theoretical Biology, Bielefeld University, P.O. Box 100131, 33501 , Bielefeld, Germany.


Walknet comprises an artificial neural network that allows for the simulation of a considerable amount of behavioral data obtained from walking and standing stick insects. It has been tested by kinematic and dynamic simulations as well as on a number of six-legged robots. Over the years, various different expansions of this network have been provided leading to different versions of Walknet. This review summarizes the most important biological findings described by Walknet and how they can be simulated. Walknet shows how a number of properties observed in insects may emerge from a decentralized architecture. Examples are the continuum of so-called "gaits," coordination of up to 18 leg joints during stance when walking forward or backward over uneven surfaces and negotiation of curves, dealing with leg loss, as well as being able following motion trajectories without explicit precalculation. The different Walknet versions are compared to other approaches describing insect-inspired hexapod walking. Finally, we briefly address the ability of this decentralized reactive controller to form the basis for the simulation of higher-level cognitive faculties exceeding the capabilities of insects.

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