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Artificial Life

Fall 2006, Vol. 12, No. 4, Pages 561-591
(doi: 10.1162/artl.2006.12.4.561)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Evolving Physically Simulated Flying Creatures for Efficient Cruising
Article PDF (1.37 MB)

The body-brain coevolution of aerial life forms has not been developed as far as aquatic or terrestrial locomotion in the field of artificial life. We are studying physically simulated 3D flying creatures by evolving both wing shapes and their controllers. A creature's wing is modeled as a number of articulated cylinders, connected by triangular films (patagia). The wing structure and its motor controllers for cruising flight are generated by an evolutionary algorithm within a simulated aerodynamic environment. The most energy-efficient cruising speed and the lift and drag coefficients of each flier are calculated from its morphological characteristics and used in the fitness evaluation. To observe a wide range of creature size, the evolution is run separately for creatures categorized into three species by body weight. The resulting creatures vary in size from pigeons to pterosaurs, with various wing configurations. We discuss the characteristics of shape and motion of the evolved creatures, including flight stability and Strouhal number.