Artificial spider: Eight-legged arachnid and autonomous learning of locomotion

Nabil I. Alshurafa*, Justin T. Harmon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Evolution has produced organisms whose locomotive agility and adaptivity mock the difficulty faced by robotic scientists. The problem of locomotion, which nature has solved so well, is surprisingly complex and difficult. We explore the ability of an artificial eight-legged arachnid, or animat, to autonomously learn a locomotive gait in a three-dimensional environment. We take a physics-based approach at modeling the world and the virtual body of the animat. The arachnid-like animat learns muscular control functions using simulated annealing techniques, which attempts to maximize forward velocity and minimize energy expenditure. We experiment with varying the weight of these parameters and the resulting locomotive gaits. We perform two experiments in which the first is a naive physics model of the body and world which uses point-masses and idealized joints and muscles. The second experiment is a more realistic simulation using rigid body elements with distributed mass, friction, motors, and mechanical joints. By emphasizing physical aspects we wish to minimize, a number of interesting gaits emerge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnmanned Systems Technology VIII
StatePublished - 2006
EventUnmanned Systems Technology VIII - Kissimmee, FL, United States
Duration: Apr 17 2006Apr 20 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Volume6230 II
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherUnmanned Systems Technology VIII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKissimmee, FL


  • Animat
  • Artificial life
  • Locomotion
  • Physics modeling
  • Robotics
  • Simulated annealing
  • Spider

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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