|Search the Mindcreators site:
I have now finished work on a much more advanced version of the insect simulator named
AnimatLab is a software tool that combines
biomechanical simulation and
biologically realistic neural networks.
You can build the body of an animal, robot, or other machine and place it in a virtual
3-D world where the
physics of its interaction with the environment are accurate and realistic. You can then design a
nervous system that controls the behavior of the body in the environment. The software currently has
support for simple
firing rate neuron models
leaky integrate and fire spiking neural models. In addition,
there a number of different
synapse model types that can be used to connect the various neural models to produce
your nervous system. On the biomechanics side there is support for a variety of different rigid body types,
custom meshes that can be made to match skeletal structures exactly. The biomechanics system also
hill-based muscle and
muscle spindle models. These muscle models allow the nervous system to produce
movements around joints. In addition, there are also motorized joints for those interested in controlling
robots or other biomimetic machines. This allows the user to generate incredibly complicated artificial lifeforms
that are based on real biological systems. Best of all
AnimatLab is completely free and it includes
free C++ source code!
All things end, and this includes the virtual insect. Future versions of this simulator
will be used with genetic algorithms to attempt to grow the neural network that the insect
uses for its brain. That will require defining a fitness function that can be used to
determine which insects are more fit, and thus more likely to survive. And a large part of the
fitness of an animal will be determined by whether or not it is able to survive on its own.
If it can not find and eat food it will eventually die, and this will weed out unfit individuals.
(It is more complicated than this, but lets save that for later.) In the current simulator
the insect will die when its energy supply reaches zero. However, It can not die of old age. So as long
as the food supply holds out and the insect is always able to eat food, it will continue to
putter around its environment. There are no neurons involved in death of the insect. It is
simply part of the simulation code. When the energy level of the insect hits zero then it
can no longer move, and its neurons are no longer active. Also, the insect turns a cold,
dead, blue color in the simulator when it dies.
Video 1. This video shows the insect dying.
Video Size: 324 Kb
This is a simple example that shows the insect dying. It starts out with a really low
energy level of 0.03. This is only enough for it to walk a short distance. It then dies,
turns blue, and no longer moves.