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Cool tech video: muscle-based locomotion for bipeds

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 | Posted by Jim Thacker

A trio of computer graphics researchers have posted footage of their interesting new system for animating biped characters procedurally, using progressive optimisation to ‘evolve’ incrementally better results.

Mimicking real muscle movements
Thomas Geijtenbeek, Michiel van de Panne and Frank van der Stappen’s system uses a muscle-based control method, and incorporates real biomechanical constaints like neural delay.

Characters driven by the resulting ‘controllers’ automatically adjust their gait to different target speeds, and react to terrain and ‘external perturbations’ (for which, read ‘having socking great boxes thrown at them’).

The resulting video is a lot of fun to watch, particularly the way that the controllers evolve between generations – it’s a bit like watching a drunk slowly sobering up – and the outtakes section, which starts at 04:50.

No mocap required
Dynamic motion synthesis isn’t new, but this is the first time we’ve seen results this sophisticated with a pure muscle-based system.

As the trio point out, it’s more common to use other forms of data to help the animation along: “One common approach … is to use motion-capture data as part of the control strategy.

“However, such methods are limited to characters and motions for which data is available. Furthermore, the biomechanical constraints implicit in captured motions are not preserved during editing or retargeting.”

The original paper, Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures, was presented at Siggraph Asia last November, and can be read in full via the link below.

Read the original research paper online

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