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GRASP Special Seminar: John Long, Vassar College, “Robotics-inspired Biology: Autonomous, Physically Embodied Models of Animals and Their Behavior”

March 23, 2015 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm


 As the targets of scientific study, animals present a host of problems.  They are complex, wet, individually variable, difficult to control, messy to take apart, and sometimes impossible to obtain.  Models mathematic or robotic provide a way around these problems.  Physically embodied robots, in particular, can help biologists model the dynamics of locomotor biomechanics, behavioral interactions, and even organic evolution.  We use simple autonomous robots to test hypotheses about living and fossil fish.  Specifically, we are interested in how fish control their swimming speed by varying the flexural stiffness of their vertebral column; how fish coordinate group behaviors; and what selection pressures may have been responsible for the evolution of the vertebral columns of the very first fish-like vertebrates, 500 million years ago. 


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John is Professor of Biology and Professor of Cognitive Science at Vassar College. He also serves as the Director of the Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory. John works in biorobotics and evolutionary robotics, creating self-propelled, autonomous robots as models of animals, both living and extinct, in order to study how the animals work, behave, and evolve. He also designs and builds bioinspired robots in collaboration with computer scientists, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, physicists, and development-stage robotics companies. He is author of Darwin’s Devices: What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology.


March 23, 2015
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
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