Collective control of modular soft robots via embodied Spiking Neural Cellular Automata

by   Giorgia Nadizar, et al.

Voxel-based Soft Robots (VSRs) are a form of modular soft robots, composed of several deformable cubes, i.e., voxels. Each VSR is thus an ensemble of simple agents, namely the voxels, which must cooperate to give rise to the overall VSR behavior. Within this paradigm, collective intelligence plays a key role in enabling the emerge of coordination, as each voxel is independently controlled, exploiting only the local sensory information together with some knowledge passed from its direct neighbors (distributed or collective control). In this work, we propose a novel form of collective control, influenced by Neural Cellular Automata (NCA) and based on the bio-inspired Spiking Neural Networks: the embodied Spiking NCA (SNCA). We experiment with different variants of SNCA, and find them to be competitive with the state-of-the-art distributed controllers for the task of locomotion. In addition, our findings show significant improvement with respect to the baseline in terms of adaptability to unforeseen environmental changes, which could be a determining factor for physical practicability of VSRs.


page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4


Evolving Modular Soft Robots without Explicit Inter-Module Communication using Local Self-Attention

Modularity in robotics holds great potential. In principle, modular robo...

Soft Lattice Modules that Behave Independently and Collectively

Natural systems integrate the work of many sub-units (cells) toward a la...

Vision-Based Control for Robots by a Fully Spiking Neural System Relying on Cerebellar Predictive Learning

The cerebellum plays a distinctive role within our motor control system ...

Regenerating Soft Robots through Neural Cellular Automata

Morphological regeneration is an important feature that highlights the e...

A Flexible Connector for Soft Modular Robots Based on Micropatterned Intersurface Jamming

Soft modular robots enable more flexibility and safer interaction with t...

Evolutionary optimisation of neural network models for fish collective behaviours in mixed groups of robots and zebrafish

Animal and robot social interactions are interesting both for ethologica...

The Sensory Neuron as a Transformer: Permutation-Invariant Neural Networks for Reinforcement Learning

In complex systems, we often observe complex global behavior emerge from...