skip to content

Mechanical models for insect locomotion

Presented by: 
P Holmes [Princeton]
Tuesday 14th November 2000 - 17:00 to 18:00
INI Seminar Room 1
I will discuss joint work with John Schmitt in which nonlinear mechanics meets biology. Motivated by experimental studies of insects, we propose a mechanical model for the dynamics of legged locomotion in the horizontal plane. Our three-degree-of freedom rigid body model with massless, compliant legs in intermittent contact with the ground allows for passive and prescribed (active muscle) force and torque generation. We focus here on energetically conservative bipedal models, each leg corresponding to the front/rear/opposite-middle tripod used in rapid running by many insect species, and we consider both fixed and moving center of pressure models. We show that the (piecewise holonomic) mechanics due to intermittent foot contacts can confer strong asymptotic stability. We discuss the relevance of our idealised models to experiments and simulations on insect running and turning, show that their gait and force characteristics match observations reasonably well, propose that the model may be generally useful for understanding legged locomotion across a range of species, and consider its implications for the neural control of locomotion.
University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons