Lieu: Salle de réunion en Anatomie Comparée (Jardin des Plantes, Paris); le séminaire sera retransmis par visioconférence à Brunoy.

Abstract: Animals must seamlessly integrate mechanics and sensorimotor control to achieve agile and stable locomotion in complex environments. In this talk, I will discuss several examples from our recent studies of bird (avian) terrestrial locomotor behaviour that highlight the challenges and elegant solutions for adaptive motions in animals: 1) locomotion in uneven terrain, 2) gait-speed and gait-transition dynamics in freely moving ostriches, 3) rapid kicking strikes of the secretary bird and 4) perching balance control. A key challenge for all animal locomotion is sensorimotor delays that limit feedback response times. Humans and birds are bipedal animals that share fundamental movement strategies; yet have different solutions to the fundamental problem of delay. Humans rely heavily on cephalized (brain-dominated) control, involving extensive learning and heavy predictive planning. In contrast, birds rely more on spinalized (spinal-cord dominated) control, using spinal rhythm generation coupled to short-latency reflexes and robustly stable intrinsic leg mechanics. The control system of birds enables rapid, agile and robustly stable locomotion. Study of the avian sensorimotor control systems reveals fundamental principles that will help enable development of agile and autonomous robots capable of moving in complex environments.