Getting past Newton

Intro to Robotics class is fun nowadays. Two classes have given rise to many interesting questions in my mind. I wish many more classes could be like that.

Why is it that brain can coordinate so many open kinematic chains (of our hands, legs etc) which on top of everything else, have spherical joints! Spherical joints cannot  be used in robots, because the enormous degrees of freedom would make the Newtonian equations indeterminate. Robotics is severely restricted in its usage of joints and openness of chains due to the fundamental restrictions posed by Newton himself. Yet our brain seems to fly in the face of Newton and maneuver these chains effortless.

This interesting and thought-provoking question was posed by our instructor in the first class. And the answer was equally interesting. Our brain doesn’t get daunted by the indeterminacy of the equations at all :D. In fact it doesn’t try to device a solution for indeterminacy, and plays with it. The enormous ingenuity of neural networks come into play, and instead of finding a determinate solution they MAP most probable solutions to the forces applied. And, thanks to humans’ incomparable learning curve, all the right solutions are mapped in our mind at a very early age.

Now that’s called getting past Newton 😀


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