A Bio-Plausible Approach to Realizing Heat-Evoked Nociceptive Withdrawal Reflex on the Upper Limb of a Humanoid Robot

Fengyi Wang, J. Rogelio Guadarrama Olvera, Nitish Thakor, Gordon Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this letter, we present a method for realizing the heat-evoked nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR) in the upper limb of a humanoid robot so that it can avoid the potential damage caused by noxious heat. We use a spiking neural network whose structure, encoding scheme, and form of information transmission mimic the reflex arc in humans to improve bio-plausibility. The proper synaptic strengths between the sensory neurons and the interneurons in the first two layers are learned using the bio-plausible reward-modulated spike timing-dependent plasticity learning algorithm. By monitoring the spikes from the motor neuron in the third layer, a reflex matching the intensity of the stimulation can be evoked. Experimental evaluations show that noxious heat stimulation can be detected online and evoke the NWR. The experiments on a full-size humanoid robot show that the method enables robots to avoid potential damage robustly with proper NWR, depending on the site and intensity of the stimulation. We also verify that the method takes advantage of the intrinsic characteristics of its neuromorphic encoding scheme to reproduce essential features of the NWR, e.g., spatial summation effect and temporal summation effect in humans. The improved bio-plausibility and the capability to reproduce the human-like feature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3398-3405
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • Humanoid robot systems
  • biomimetics

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