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I have now finished work on a much more advanced version of the insect simulator named AnimatLab. 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 and 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, including custom meshes that can be made to match skeletal structures exactly. The biomechanics system also has 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!

4.3 Locomotion

1. How to walk

Ever wondered how a bug actually walks? Well, this section is probably not going to completely answer that question for you, but it will at least make a good start. The neural systems built in the simulator to make the insect walk are nowhere near as complicated or adaptable as those seen in real insect brains. However, researchers have discovered allot about the general processes going on in the brain that control walking behavior. Based on this research, they have even come up with some models on how the brain does it. This section will use the fruits of their labor to build a high level neural network that gives the insect the ability to walk around its environment.

2. Section Overview

This section begins by talking about some of the basics on the motion of walking. It then talks a little about one of the key components that has been discovered in real insects which allows them to control their own walking. The next page goes on to discuss what type of system can be used to control the movements of an individual leg and foot. Finally, the last page in this section ties all of the legs together so that the insect can actually walk.

   4.3.1Insect Locomotion
   4.3.2Leg Controller
   4.3.3Locomotion Controller

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