The robotics framework for AnimatLab is a set of tools that allow you to easily interface the control systems for your simulation with real hardware. This gives you the ability to build robotic systems within the AnimatLab virtual world to test out new ideas and use optimization techniques like genetic algorithms. You can then download those control systems directly onto your robot and test them on the real hardware. One of the primary goals of the framework is to make it very easy to build and test biomimetic robots that use neural control systems for autonomous behavior (NeuroRobotics). The robotics plug-in is so easy to use that you can build a complete robot with very little knowledge of electronics, and without having to write a single line of code. You can layout your neural control system and the body of your robot visually within the AnimatLab editor and test it within the simulated virtual environment, The robotics framework provides interface tools that can be attached to the motors and other sensors within the simulation, and they perform all the tedious tasks of talking back and forth with the real hardware to translate the neural commands to move into signals that the motors need. The interfaces also translate real input signals from the hardware back into something that the neural systems can understand. The key thing to understand here though, is that this all happens effortlessly on the part of the user. All the work to do this translation is done upfront by the developer of the interface, but to the user it is a simple matter to add the new interface, tell it which real and simulated parts it connects with, and in some cases specify a gain function for translation between the two systems. That is it, the rest of the magic happens automatically within the interface.
The pages below give a detailed description of all the components that make up the robotics framework and how you use them. Please read through these pages in order to learn more on how to use this feature, and please be sure to see the associated video tutorials to see hands on descriptions of how to get your robots up and running with AnimatLab.
This project was supported by: