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The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, is reported to follow walls at a rate of up to 25 turns s(-1). During high-speed wall following, a cockroach holds its antenna relatively still at the base while the flagellum bends in response to upcoming protrusions. We present a simple mechanosensory model for the task-level dynamics of wall following. In(More)
The task of estimating the gradient of a function in the presence of noise is central to several forms of reinforcement learning, including policy search methods. We present two techniques for reducing gradient estimation errors in the presence of observable input noise applied to the control signal. The first method extends the idea of a reinforcement(More)
— Feedback from antennae – long, flexible tactile sensors – enables cockroaches and other arthropods to rapidly maneuver through poorly lit and cluttered environments. Inspired by their performance, we created a wall-following controller for a dynamic wheeled robot using tactile antenna feedback. We show this controller is stable for a wide range of control(More)
As a flexible needle with a bevel tip is pushed through soft tissue, the asymmetry of the tip causes the needle to bend. We propose that, by using nonholonomic kinematics, control and path planning, an appropriately designed needle can be steered through tissue to reach a specified 3D target. Such steering capability will enhance targeting accuracy and(More)
How do neural systems process sensory information to control locomotion? The weakly electric knifefish Eigenmannia, an ideal model for studying sensorimotor control, swims to stabilize the sensory image of a sinusoidally moving refuge. Tracking performance is best at stimulus frequencies less than approximately 1 Hz. Kinematic analysis, which is widely used(More)
Flexible, tip-steerable needles promise to enhance physicians' abilities to accurately reach targets and maneuver inside the human body while minimizing patient trauma. Here, we present a functional needle steering system that integrates two components: (1) a patient-specific 2D pre- and intra-operative planner that finds an achievable route to a target(More)
— The interplay between robotics and neuromechanics facilitates discoveries in both fields: nature provides roboticists with design ideas, while robotics research elucidates critical features that confer performance advantages to biological systems. Here we explore a system particularly well suited to exploit the synergies between biology and robotics:(More)
Neural computation is inescapably closed-loop: the nervous system processes sensory signals to shape motor output, and motor output consequently shapes sensory input. Technological advances have enabled neuroscientists to close, open, and alter feedback loops in a wide range of experimental preparations. The experimental capability of manipulating the(More)
—This paper presents a new class of thin, dexterous continuum robots, which we call active cannulas due to their potential medical applications. An active cannula is composed of telescoping , concentric, precurved superelastic tubes that can be axially translated and rotated at the base relative to one another. Active cannulas derive bending not from tendon(More)