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Life-like Artefact for Motor-Postural Experiments and Development of new Control Technologies inspired by Rapid Animal locomotion (LAMPETRA)
Start date: Feb 1, 2008, End date: Jul 31, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The objective of the LAMPETRA proposal is developing lamprey/salamander bioinspired artefacts to perform neuroscientific studies related to goal-directed locomotion and to find new solutions for high-performance artificial locomotion, in terms of fast-response, adaptability, reliability, energy efficiency, and control. These issues will be pursued by implementing a bio-inspired artificial system (mimicking the neuronal level, the biomechanical structure, the control functions) and by performing advanced numerical simulations focused on the neural control system of locomotion. The bio-inspired system will be composed by a high number of segments, a compliant body structure, muscle-like actuators, legs-like appendages, artificial stretch receptors, vestibular and vision sensors, and architectures for low/high level control functions. The numerical simulations are aimed at formulating a model of central pattern generator, at developing a software platform for replicating body movements, at implementing sensors inputs, visuo-motor coordination, posture control and legs movements. Experiments will include also a bio-hybrid approach, interfacing a lamprey nervous system with acquisition and control hardware. The project is expected to achieve advances in neurosciences, technology, and engineering. Neuroscience will provide information to be transferred to mathematical models, creating a bridge between biology and technology. Numerical simulations will be used to analyse these models and to study system properties in well defined situations. A number of features from lampreys and salamanders will be replicated in biomimetic artefacts. The project is also expected to bring developments in the field of control, i.e. the behaviour-based control inspired to animals, by rethinking control methods and involving the combination of digital and analogue circuits.
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