Viability, task switching, and fall avoidance of the simplest dynamic walker
Walking humans display great versatility when achieving task goals, like avoiding obstacles or walking alongside others, but the relevance of this to fall avoidance remains unknown. We recently demonstrated a functional connection between the motor regulation needed to achieve task goals (e.g., maintaining walking speed) and a simple walker's ability to reject large disturbances. Here, for the same model, we identify the viability kernel---the largest state-space region where the walker can step forever via at least one sequence of push-off inputs per state. We further find that only a few basins of attraction of the speed-regulated walker's steady-state gaits can fully cover the viability kernel. This highlights a potentially important role of task-level motor regulation in fall avoidance. Therefore, we posit an adaptive hierarchical control/regulation strategy that switches between different task-level regulators to avoid falls. Our task switching controller only requires a target value of the regulated observable---a "task switch"---at every walking step, each chosen from a small, predetermined collection. Because humans have typically already learned to perform such goal-directed tasks during nominal walking conditions, this suggests that the "information cost" of biologically implementing such controllers for the nervous system, including cognitive demands in humans, could be quite low.
This is an Author's proofread version of the article accepted in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. The final typeset version is available online for free at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-11966-3.
|Work Title||Viability, task switching, and fall avoidance of the simplest dynamic walker|
|License||CC BY 4.0 (Attribution)|
|Publication Date||May 17, 2022|
|Publisher Identifier (DOI)||
|Deposited||April 29, 2022|
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