Finally, I finished my PhD (the thesis has been submitted in April 2009 and the disputation took place in January 2010). The title is: Universally manipulable body models for cognitive control. And following a short summary of the thesis
The capability to behave autonomously is assumed to rely fundamentally on being embedded into the current situation and in the own body. While reactive systems seem sufficient to address these aspects to assure ones surviving in an unpredictable environment, they clearly lack cognitive capabilities as planning ahead: The latter requires internal models which represents the body and the environment and which can be used to mentally simulate behaviours before actually performing one of them. Initially, these models may have evolved in reactive systems to serve specific actions. Cognitive functions may have developed later exploiting the capabilities of these models.
The present thesis consists, on the one hand, of the realisation of a reactive system for the control of walking in a robot. This controller is informed by the analysis of walking behaviour in stick insects. On the other hand, this model is now extended by higher levels of control relying on an internal model: A neuronal network approach for an internal model is provided that can be used as a forward model, an inverse model and a sensor fusion model. It is integrated into the reactive control scheme, enabling the system to plan its actions by mentally simulating them.