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A developmental approach to sensori-motor coordination in artificial systems

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3 Author(s)
Metta, G. ; Lira Lab., Genoa Univ., Italy ; Sandini, G. ; Konczak, J.

The aim of the paper is to propose that the adoption of a framework of biological development is suitable for the construction of artificial systems. We argue that a developmental approach does provide unique insights on how to build highly complex and adaptable artificial systems. In turn, it might also aid neuroscientists in a better understanding of the human brain functions involved in sensori-motor control. To illustrate our point, we use as an example the acquisition of goal-directed reaching in human infants, and demonstrate the underlying mechanisms of biological development. In a second part, we outline a) how mechanisms of biological development can be adapted to the artificial world, and b) how this artificial development differs from traditional engineering approaches to robotics. The experimental part is based on a set-up composed of a monocular robot head with two degrees of freedom and a two degrees of freedom arm. The motor control of both the head and the arm is based on the so-called force field approach described in the biological literature as a mechanism implemented at the level of the spinal cord to control ballistic motion of the arm. The visual part is, at this stage, limited to a simple target tracking procedure based on color information. The goal of the system is to reach with the arm the target fixated by the eye. Initially the new-born system is capable of performing a limited number of motor actions coded as rough visuo-motor maps and initiated by the appearance of the target in the field of view. During the developmental phase the system, through repetitive reaching of different points in the arm workspace, refines the visuo-motor maps without explicit knowledge of the system's kinematic parameters

Published in:

Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 1998. 1998 IEEE International Conference on  (Volume:4 )

Date of Conference:

11-14 Oct 1998