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Artificial Life

Summer 2019, Vol. 25, No. 3, Pages 236-249
(doi: 10.1162/artl_a_00295)
© 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Exploring Bipedal Hopping through Computational Evolution
Article PDF (2.05 MB)

Bipedal hopping is an efficient form of locomotion, yet it remains relatively rare in the natural world. Previous research has suggested that the tail balances the angular momentum of the legs to produce steady state bipedal hopping. In this study, we employ a 3D physics simulation engine to optimize gaits for an animat whose control and morphological characteristics are subject to computational evolution, which emulates properties of natural evolution. Results indicate that the order of gene fixation during the evolutionary process influences whether a bipedal hopping or quadrupedal bounding gait emerges. Furthermore, we found that in the most effective bipedal hoppers the tail balances the angular momentum of the torso, rather than the legs as previously thought. Finally, there appears to be a specific range of tail masses, as a proportion of total body mass, wherein the most effective bipedal hoppers evolve.