(ORDO NEWS) — The mathematical model that can be used to describe the movements of many-legged creatures turned out to be much simpler than scientists thought.
Comparing the movements of ants and robots, American researchers have shown that the same formulas can be used to describe walking, jumping, sliding and swimming.
Scientists from the University of California at San Diego (USA) found that the mathematical model that describes walking is much simpler than previously thought.
The results of their research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will allow roboticists to create much simpler models for describing the movements of robots.
Initially, scientists studied the walking of ants in order to apply the findings in robotics. However, in the course of their research, they discovered a new relationship between walking, jumping, sliding and swimming in viscous liquids that is relevant for many-legged animals.
The authors analyzed the walking of Argentine ants. These insects can travel long distances, and in addition, they easily adapt to laboratory conditions.
The scientists compared the movements of the ants with the movements of various robots, for which they used an algorithm developed by a research group from the University of Michigan (USA), which turns complex movements into a mathematical model.
Scientists have discovered a simple relationship between the position in which the ant is located and where it is going to move in the next moment in time.
The same algorithms were applicable to both the movement of the ants and the two types of robots, even though the amount of gliding movement while walking was very different.
In ants, sliding was only 4.7% of the total movement, in a six-legged robot this percentage reached 12–22%, and in robots with twelve legs it was 40–100%.
The model successfully predicted where the insect or robot would move next, based on what position its body was in.
Previously, it was only used to describe gliding and swimming, but it has proven to be applicable to walking on multiple legs, regardless of the size of walkers and whether they are gliding or not.
The researchers believe that these universal principles may be important for understanding animal evolution, such as the transition from swimming to walking.
Given that walking, even without gliding, follows the same physical principles as swimming, the first land animals may already have the neural mechanisms needed to move on land.
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