PLoS ONE (Jan 2016)

Peripersonal Space and Margin of Safety around the Body: Learning Visuo-Tactile Associations in a Humanoid Robot with Artificial Skin.

  • Alessandro Roncone,
  • Matej Hoffmann,
  • Ugo Pattacini,
  • Luciano Fadiga,
  • Giorgio Metta

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 10
p. e0163713


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This paper investigates a biologically motivated model of peripersonal space through its implementation on a humanoid robot. Guided by the present understanding of the neurophysiology of the fronto-parietal system, we developed a computational model inspired by the receptive fields of polymodal neurons identified, for example, in brain areas F4 and VIP. The experiments on the iCub humanoid robot show that the peripersonal space representation i) can be learned efficiently and in real-time via a simple interaction with the robot, ii) can lead to the generation of behaviors like avoidance and reaching, and iii) can contribute to the understanding the biological principle of motor equivalence. More specifically, with respect to i) the present model contributes to hypothesizing a learning mechanisms for peripersonal space. In relation to point ii) we show how a relatively simple controller can exploit the learned receptive fields to generate either avoidance or reaching of an incoming stimulus and for iii) we show how the robot can select arbitrary body parts as the controlled end-point of an avoidance or reaching movement.