A robot explains the evolution

With a salamander-like robot, researchers show how easy our animal awards the way out of the water could be successful in the country

Everyone will have ever observed fish that suddenly devoted it into the dryness. They fidget and hoppy and are hard to grab – but they are barely able to straighten movement. Even if she did not go on drying out soon, they were hardly bidding to them. And yet their and our ancestors have to have made the way out of the water from around 400 million years ago.

The fact that they could not have fallen so hard to show researchers from Switzerland and France in the current ie of the Science Magazine Science. In her work, they look at the salamander more closely, an amphibium, which is especially an admirable regeneration ability (cf). Renewable limbs).

The Salamander is also certified, from the current fauna to the very first country life in the strongest. It also speaks that he mastered two ways of movement well – in some people you can not even assert that for a method of movement. On the one one, the salamander – the scientists are always talking about "the salamander" in their work, although it is a whole, together with the pigs-educated family – so he is a very good swimmer who folded up with " "Being through the water. On the other hand, it runs at land – slower than in the water, but for the use of its four limbs, where he moves the diagonally at the same time at the same time.

A robot explains the evolution

Obvution: The crawling robot in the laboratory (Photo: A. Duke / Biologically Inspired Robotics Group, EPFL)

As the Salamander has learned these types of movement, the researchers have been suggesting since 2003. Own amphibians, which was known, two oscillation centers, nerve braids producing rhythmic signals and forwarding to the muscles in the body and in the limbs. The a braid is distributed over the entire long of the spine, its nerve cells firing in such a rhythm that the body is put into the typical swimming movements. The other pattern generator sits at only two digits of the ruckgrat and is contiguous for the front or rear legs.

In 2003, Jean-Marie Cabelguen, one of the author of the science article, discovered the area responsible for the type of movement in the Salamander brain. Which type of movement exports a salamander, an area of its brain – namely simple on the strong of the suggestion. When Cabelguen tracted the area with a low flow of current, the leg muscles began to move in the typical pattern. With increasing excitation, the legs of flotters – up to a certain limit, at which the state-of-the-nerve cells were moving. But now the second pattern generator continued – and put the body of the salamander into the typical swimming movements. This is such a simple process that the Salamander ancestor has to be relatively easily liked the path to land.

A robot explains the evolution

The Salamander robot on the way to the wet element (Photo: A. Duke / Biologically Inspired Robotics Group, EPFL)

Now Stromexperiments on dead salamander are not so impressive proof as a model that shows the animals in action. Central topic of the current science article is therefore a salamander rebuilt in robot form. The 85 centimeter long and equipped with ten motors is relatively primitive as a robot, but still it dominates both types of movement of his animal model. His designers have built him a control that imitates the properties of Salamander model generators. The "nerves" stated for the limbs oscillate more slowly than those responsible for the body movement, but they have prioritat against the body movement.

In fact, the scientists had success with this model – the Salamander robot typically moves to the for amphibians. By remote control, its inventors can regulate the voltage with which the control center is tracted – and indeed the robot at low voltages until it first crawl with higher voltages and then begins to swim. His movement patterns acknowledge that real salamander clearly. He comes – in body-length printed – slightly slower than pleurodeles Waltlii, the Spanish rib’s molding: when running it reaches up to 0.11 body length per second (ribsmolch: 0.4 body length / s). In the water, the rib’s molding floats even clearer: there it is 0.14 body length / s to 1.2 body length / s. In view of the relatively primitive mechanics, the researchers are rightly considering successful.

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