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Doing the locomotion
January 14, 2014 12:25 AM   Subscribe

John Goatstream has posted a video titled Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures on Vimeo, showing the results from a self-learning program that explores different gaits for bipedal creatures. In addition to showing the fruits of serious research for the good people at the Siggraph Asia 2013 conference, it has some hilarious walking creatures.
posted by Harald74 (48 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
The derpiness of it all is adorable but why oh why is someone chucking crates at that woobly chubby fella?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:32 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


@03.10: thats me in the morning
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:32 AM on January 14


Looks like "Goatstream" is Thomas Geijtenbeek, it's a literal-translation rendering of his Dutch last name. Here's a relevant Utrecht University page with the paper as a PDF.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:35 AM on January 14 [8 favorites]


That was great. Now I want a video game where I throw boxes at dummies from all directions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:41 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


This is what I wish Spore were more like.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:52 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I'm not drunk! My torque patterns incorporate non-optimised biomechanical constraints!
posted by dowcrag at 12:54 AM on January 14 [11 favorites]


I found these hilarious. Obviously the next frontier is optimizing for silliness
posted by serif at 1:04 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


The derpiness of it all is adorable but why oh why is someone chucking crates at that woobly chubby fella?

It's much easier to keep a character upright when it's walking in a straight line on a perfectly level surface than when it's walking up and down and someone's throwing boxes at it. Also, if your controller is just going to generate the same walk cycle over and over again and can't adapt to the external environment, just asking an artist to generate a few seconds of plausible-looking animation becomes an appealing alternative.
posted by Serf at 1:29 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


These results are good, but the most impressive simulations I've seen recently are coming out of Emo Todorov's lab. He's got a list of videos available on that front page.

None of them caused me to laugh out loud though. *Huge Box*
posted by Alex404 at 1:51 AM on January 14 [12 favorites]


Some other fun recent character animation papers:

Mordatch et al., Discovery of Complex Behaviors through Contact-Invariant Optimization - characters automatically figure out how to climb, do handstands, and stand on each others' shoulders.

Wampler and Popović, Optimal Gait and Form for Animal Locomotion - can we animate animals with 4 legs? What about 5 legs? (Video is a 55MB download and doesn't seem to exist on YouTube, sorry.)

Tan et al., Articulated Swimming Creatures - frogs, eels, and fish learn to swim. Uses simulated liquid physics!

Wang et al., Optimizing Walking Controllers for Uncertain Inputs and Environments - lots more virtual character abuse. Shoving, ice, narrow paths above infinite drops, and spilled coffee.
posted by Serf at 1:56 AM on January 14 [10 favorites]


Crap, does anyone remember the java or flash app on some site that would generate stuff like this, but in 2d? i remember the one for wheeled vehicles, but there was also a walking one...
posted by emptythought at 1:59 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


emptythought, you may be thinking of http://sodaplay.com/.

My two immediate takes on these videos are indicative of why I will never present at SIGGRAPH:

1) QWOP 2 is going to be amazing.
2) This could be used to generate an almost infinite collection of "haters gonna hate" animated gifs.
posted by outlaw of averages at 2:05 AM on January 14 [8 favorites]


Someone on reddit set the footage to a particular song, and the results are ... hang on .... I have something in my eye ...

(via )
posted by memebake at 2:51 AM on January 14 [15 favorites]


It's not "You'll Never Walk Alone," is it?
posted by ardgedee at 3:40 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Oh man the segment with the lineup of multiple generations of each creature made me giggle like a child, watching each one succumb to the faults of its build and flomp to the ground.
posted by Mizu at 3:50 AM on January 14


Go home, Generation 80, you're drunk.
posted by flabdablet at 4:03 AM on January 14 [6 favorites]


The long-legged dinosaur/ostrich one is adorably sassy.
posted by corvine at 4:10 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


optimized for silliness
posted by otherthings_ at 4:45 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


Crap, does anyone remember the java or flash app on some site that would generate stuff like this, but in 2d? i remember the one for wheeled vehicles, but there was also a walking one...

There's breveCreatures, which is a screensaver! It's delightfully QWOPy for most of the early generations. Sadly, it does not support the latest version of OSX.
posted by jquinby at 5:08 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


memebake, I'm going to be late for work because of you.
posted by saturday_morning at 5:29 AM on January 14


Those dinosaurs are so jaunty! I love them! Thank you!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:33 AM on January 14


There should be a ministry overseeing all this silly locomotive modelling.
posted by aught at 5:42 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Man, that short dude is having the worst walk home from school ever.
posted by Jpfed at 5:44 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Goddamnit stop throwing boxes at me!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:49 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Computer person fall down go boom. That's funny. But this research also legitimately solves for how a person would have to walk in Jupiter gravity, and what a dinosaur would look like walking on the moon. That's amazing.
posted by rlk at 6:03 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


why oh why is someone chucking crates at that woobly chubby fella?

So that I would have the perfect "Current Status" GIF...
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:06 AM on January 14


I'm just glad they don't continue to struggle when they fall.
posted by aramaic at 6:06 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


memebake, I'm now wondering if a QWOP compilation set to Gary Jules would be just too painful emotionally.
posted by 0 answers at 6:13 AM on January 14


The last figure in the outtakes shows the independent evolution of skipping for joy!
posted by drdanger at 6:28 AM on January 14


I'm impressed how it converged onto one of the two gaits we saw the astronauts on the Moon use. (the other gate was a bunny-hop.)
posted by eriko at 6:29 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I'm a little tired, so forgive my disappointment that these were not videos of flexible mustache-based locomotion.
posted by roue at 6:33 AM on January 14


Computer person fall down go boom. That's funny. But this research also legitimately solves for how a person would have to walk in Jupiter gravity, and what a dinosaur would look like walking on the moon.

I thought it was even more interesting to see what we would walk like if there was no neural delay.
posted by zixyer at 6:36 AM on January 14


Man I want a hopping little dinosaur now. Like a chicken-sized sparrow or something.
posted by The Whelk at 6:38 AM on January 14


The sidewalk is for regular walkin', not fancy walkin'!
posted by Peevish at 6:40 AM on January 14


I think more research should include an "outtakes" section.
posted by ook at 6:46 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I love how they discovered kangaroos. Convergent evolution!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:46 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


It's impossible to resist reading states of mind into each creatures individual gait. Some are happy, some dejected, and some just plain drunk. Also, the timing with which that big box replaced all the little ones? Worthy of Chuck Jones.
posted by Paul Slade at 7:15 AM on January 14 [4 favorites]


After the initial lulz, that pelting section started to feel uncomfortably like when that researcher kicks BigDog. Like the ASPCA in movies, there needs to be a observing computer in these situations who will yell out ENOUGH! ENOUGH! in Dalek-y voice.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:22 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


In addition to Todorov's excellent work, there's the long-standing OpenSim project of Delp et al., though OpenSim is more human biomechanics and gait-oriented in focus, and less oriented toward optimal control for generic movements (like sit to stand or manual object manipulation) than Todorov's stuff. I just saw both of them at Dynamic Walking last summer in Pittsburgh.

So, not sure what's new here. Don't have time to dig today, unfortunately.

Cool videos, though!
posted by mondo dentro at 8:50 AM on January 14


This is probably incredibly persnickety, but it bugs me that the feet are just solid blocks. You've got joints and muscles in your feet too! I guess all of these were wearing hard shoes or something.

Very cool, despite that one thing my brain just won't let go of.
posted by egypturnash at 9:05 AM on January 14


I keep reading "Goatstream" as, well, Goatse.
posted by pxe2000 at 9:10 AM on January 14


At 3:01, with the dinosaur on the slope, you can see a little toe movement!
posted by mittens at 9:10 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Neat! It reminds me a lot of the SIGGRAPH '94 presentation by Karl Sims.
posted by mikurski at 10:07 AM on January 14


I was going to bring up the Sims work; here's the 1994 evolved creatures work on YouTube. I've always wondered why that evolutionary approach hasn't had more impact on following character animation work, particularly for games. All the right people saw it, I wonder if it wasn't generalizable or was just too hard to adapt?

Related: some awesome retro 1987 work from Karl Sims. The animation is crude but the rendering and soundtrack are hilarious.
posted by Nelson at 10:58 AM on January 14


I've always wondered why that evolutionary approach hasn't had more impact on following character animation work

Do you mean something about Sims' approach in particular, or evolutionary approaches in general? CMA, an evolutionary technique, is very frequently used in character animation work as a black-box optimizer (including in the paper we're discussing and 2/4 papers from my earlier comment).
posted by Serf at 12:24 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Usually, when I say "Better with Yakety Sax", I leave it as a thought experiment.

This time, I restarted it half-way through just to actually play Yakety Sax.

Perfection.
posted by Devonian at 12:49 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


outlaw of averages: emptythought, you may be thinking of http://sodaplay.com/.

I almost mentioned that in my post, it definitely WASN'T that. I am quite amused to see/be made to think of sodaplay/sodaconstructor though. I remember playing around with that in like, seriously, 1999 or 2000 at the pacific science center in their "state of the art computer lab!" that amazed me by having these displays which were, i think, some of the very first consumer LCDs.

I can't believe that site is still around and fully functional. So many other interesting sites from that era are long since dead(RIP thearcade/3darcade, which only exists as a totally broken archive.org thing)
posted by emptythought at 7:28 PM on January 15


The reaction to this video shows that 'gaits' really bring things to life for us. Perhaps its a deeply ingrained thing in our visual centres (as it probably is with facial expressions). Gaits really seem to communicate something to us about a character's disposition.

In people's empathy for the figure having boxes thrown at it, I see a glimmer of an ethnical issue that might start to become important in about 50 years time or less - the ethical treatment of artificial intelligences.

Imagine, in 50 years time, a similar experiment to this one, but with much more depth - full simulation of major parts of the brain and nervous system of creatures, then thousands of simulation cycles to see how well they learn to move through various environments. In future, I have a feeling that growing acceptance of the strong-AI philosophical position and growing sophistication of models will start to need ethical boundaries to be drawn, with implications for science, virtual realities and computer games.

We are already working towards simulating the full neuron structure of the nematode worm, imagine where we'll be in 50 years.
posted by memebake at 7:45 AM on January 16


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