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Publication Summary and Abstract

Martin Pearson, Ben Mitchinson, Jason Welsby, Tony Pipe, Tony Prescott (2010), Scratchbot: Active tactile sensing in a whiskered mobile robot, proceedings of Eleventh International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behaviour, Springer LNCS 6226:93-103.

The rodent vibrissal (whisker) system is one of the most widely investigated model sensory systems in neuroscience owing to its discrete organisation from the sensory apparatus (the whisker shaft) all the way to the sensory cortex, its ease of manipulation, and its presence in common laboratory animals. Neurobiology shows us that the brain nuclei and circuits that process vibrissal touch signals, and that control the positioning and movement of the whiskers, form a neural architecture that is a good model of how the mammalian brain, in general, coordinates sensing with action. In this paper we describe SCRATCHbot, a biomimetic robot based on the rat whisker system, and show how this robot is providing insight into the operation of neural systems underlying vibrissal control, and is helping us to understand the active sensing strategies that animals employ in order to boost the quality and quantity of information provided by their sensory organs.
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