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VideoLab: Robotic Salamander

To study the transition from aquatic to terrestrial locomotion, Ijspeert et al. took a cue from the motion of the salamander (clip 1) -- the tetrapod that most closely resembles the first terrestrial vertebrates -- to develop a robotic spinal cord model (clip 2). With a mere change in signal strength, the robot can swim to shore, crawl onto land, and walk away. The model could help scientists infer what types of evolutionary changes were needed to allow for rapid switching between swimming and walking. This model builds off of vertebrates’ central pattern generators (CPG), and suggests neural mechanisms for modulating velocity, direction, and type of gait that are relevant to all four-limbed vertebrates, including humans.

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Resource Type: Journal article/Issue, Video
Audience Level: High school upper division 11-12, Undergraduate lower division 13-14, Undergraduate upper division 15-16

Author and Copyright

Authors and Editors: Auke Jan Ijspeert of School of Computer and Communication Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Alessandro Crespi of School of Computer and Communication Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Dimitri Ryczko of INSERM, Jean-Marie Cabelguen of and University Bordeaux
Publisher: AAAS
Format: text/html
Copyright and other restrictions: Yes
Cost: No


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