Behavioral diversity is an essential feature of living systems, enabling them to exhibit adaptive behavior in hostile and dynamically changing environments. However, traditional engineering approaches strive to avoid, or suppress, the behavioral diversity in artificial systems to achieve high performance in specific environments for given tasks. The goals of this research include understanding how living systems exhibit behavioral diversity and using these findings to build lifelike robots that exhibit truly adaptive behaviors. To this end, we have focused on one of the most primitive forms of intelligence concerning behavioral diversity, namely, a plasmodium of true slime mold. The plasmodium is a large amoeba-like unicellular organism that does not possess any nervous system or specialized organs. However, it exhibits versatile spatiotemporal oscillatory patterns and switches spontaneously between these. Inspired by the plasmodium, we built a mathematical model that exhibits versatile oscillatory patterns and spontaneously transitions between these patterns. This model demonstrates that, in contrast to coupled nonlinear oscillators with a well-designed complex diffusion network, physically interacting mechanosensory oscillators are capable of generating versatile oscillatory patterns without changing any parameters. Thus, the results are expected to shed new light on the design scheme for lifelike robots that exhibit amazingly versatile and adaptive behaviors.
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