Underwater locomotion and sensing

Friday, September 6, 2019, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm PDTiCal
10th floor conference room (1016)
This event is open to the public.
AI Seminar
Eva Adnan Kanso, USC
Video Recording:
I will present two research problems inspired by underwater organisms. The first problem is inspired by the ability of sea stars to crawl on various terrains using arrays of specialized tube feet. The activity of the tube feet is orchestrated by a nerve net that is distributed throughout the body; there is no central brain. How such a decentralized nervous system produces a coordinated locomotion is yet to be understood. Here, we develop mathematical models of the biomechanics and motor control of the tube feet and the sea star body. We find that the minimally coupled tube feet coordinate to generate forward locomotion, reminiscent of the motions of sea stars, that is robust to variations in the terrains and to heterogeneity in the tube feet parameters. 
The second problem is inspired by the ability of swimming organisms like fish and harbor seals to respond to specific flows and hydrodynamic cues. The exact features that make  these flows distinguishable and the sensory measurements and layouts that are needed to detect them remain elusive. Here, we use neural networks to solve  the inverse problem of classifying flow patterns from local sensory measurements. 
I will conclude by commenting on the advantages and limitations of these models for underwater actuation and sensing, and I will discuss how these results lay the groundwork for developing combined data-driven and physics-based models of behavior using distributed arrays of sensors and actuators.
Eva Kanso is a professor, and the Zohrab H. Kaprielian Fellow, in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). Prior to joining USC, Kanso held a two-year postdoctoral position in Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Caltech. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering as well as an M.A. degree in Mathematics from UC Berkeley. She got her Bachelor of Engineering from the American University of Beirut with distinction. At USC, Kanso studies the physics of how organisms interact with their environments. Kanso combines methods from fluid and solid mechanics with techniques from dynamical systems and control theory to analyze the interplay between the morphology of living systems and the environment to produce biological functions.
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