IEEE ICMA 2007 Conference

Plenary Talk 3


Emergence of Adaptive Motor Function through Interaction among the Body, Brain and Environment

Hajime Asama, Ph.D.
RACE (Research into Artifacts, Center for Engineering)
The University of Tokyo
Kashiwanoha 5-1-5, Kashiwa-shi, Chiba 277-8568, Japan
Tel. +81-4-7136-4255, Fax. +81-4-7136-4242, E-mail asama@race.u-tokyo.ac.jp

The Mobiligence project is a five-year project started from 2005[1], which was accepted as a program of Scientific Research on Priority Areas of Grant-in-Aid Scientific Research from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). In addition to the planned research groups which started in 2005, new two-years-research groups (applied research groups) will be selected and start from 2006.

Human can behave adaptively even in diverse and complex environment. All the animals or even insects can perform various types of adaptive behaviors, such as a locomotive behavior in the form of swimming, flying walking, a manipulation behaviors such as reaching, capturing, grasping by using hands and arms, a social behavior to the other subjects, etc. Such adaptive behaviors are the intelligent sensory-motor functions, and most essential and indispensable ones for life forms to survive.

However, the mechanisms for the generation of intelligent adaptive behaviors are not thoroughly understood. Such an adaptive function is considered to emerge from the interaction of the body, brain, and environment, which requires that a subject acts or moves. Base on the consideration, we call the intelligence for generating adaptive motor function mobiligence. The final goal of this project is to establish the common principle underlying the emergence of mobiligence.

In this project, the mobiligence mechanism is to be understood by the constructive and systematic approaches, through the collaboration of biologists and engineering scientists who developed biological models by integrating physiological data and kinetic modeling technologies. In other words, the Mobiligence Project is pursued by integrating biology and engineering, i.e., physiological analysis (biology), modeling and experiments on artificial systems (engineering), verification of models (biology), and discovery and application of principles (engineering).

In the following discussion, the focus is on three adaptive mechanisms:

1. Mechanism whereby animals adapt to recognize environmental changes;

2. Mechanism whereby animals adapt physically to environmental changes; and

3. Mechanism whereby animals adapt to society.

Research groups for each of the categories listed above are organized. The three groups conduct their respective research and clarify the universal, common principle underlying the mechanism of mobiligence.

In this project, various types of adaptive motor function mechanisms performed by humans, animals, insects, etc. are expected to be elucidates. In the medical field, the results of our research will contribute to the discovery of a method to improve motor impairment and develop rehabilitation systems. In addition, in the engineering field, the results of our research will contribute to the derivation of the design principles of artificial intelligence systems. Furthermore, we will explore the new research field, mobiligence, establish a research organization that integrates biology and engineering, and implement programs to foster young engineering scientists and biologists to conduct collaborative and interdisciplinary research between biological and engineering research, respectively.

Hajime Asamawas born on Jan. 18, 1959. He received MS and DS degrees in Engineering from the University of Tokyo, in 1984 and 1989, respectively. He worked at RIKEN (The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, Japan) from 1986 to 2002, and became the professor of RACE (Research into Artifacts, Center for Engineering), the University of Tokyo in 2002. He received JSME Robotics and Mechatronics Division Best Paper Award in 1995, JSME Robotics and Mechatronics Division Academic Achievement Award in 2000, Best Paper Award of Fanuc FA Robot Foundation in 2006, etc. He played an editorship of "Distributed Autonomous Robotics Systems", its second and fifth volume which were published from Springer-Verlag, Tokyo in 1994, 1996 and 2002 respectively. He was the IFAC TC chair on Intelligent Autonomous Vehicles from 2002 to 2005. He is a fellow of JSME since 2004, an AdCom member of IEEE Robotics and Automation Society since 2007, and a member of IEEE, JSME, RSJ, SICE, etc. He is the director of the Mobiligence project in the MEXT Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas from 2005. His main interests are distributed autonomous robotic systems, cooperation of multiple autonomous mobile robots, emergent robotic systems, ubiquitous systems, service engineering, and Mobiligence, namely emergence of adaptive motor function through the body, brain and environment.