Virtual Characters Learn To Work Out…and Undergo Surgery

Dear Fellow Scholars, this is Two Minute Papers
with Károly Zsolnai-Fehér. This work is about creating virtual characters
with a skeletal system, adding more than 300 muscles and teaching them to use these muscles
to kick, jump, move around and perform other realistic human movements. Throughout the video, you will see the activated
muscles with red. I am loving the idea, which, turns out, comes
lots of really interesting corollaries. For instance, this simulation realistically
portrays how increasing the amount of weight to be lifted changes what muscles are being
trained during a workout. These agents also learned to jump really high
and you can see a drastic difference between the movement required for a mediocre jump
and an amazing one. As we are teaching these virtual agents within
a simulation, we can perform all kinds of crazy experiments by giving them horrendous
special conditions, such as bone deformities, a stiff ankle, muscle deficiencies and watch
them learn to walk despite these setbacks. For instance, here you see that the muscles
in the left thigh are contracted, resulting in a stiff knee, and as a result, the agent
learned an asymmetric gait. If the thigh-bones are twisted inwards, ouch,
the AI shows that it is still possible to control the muscles to walk in a stable manner. I don’t know about you, but at this point
I am feeling quite sorry for these poor simulated beings, so let’s move on, we have plenty
of less gruesome, but equally interesting things to test here. In fact, if we are in a simulation, why not
take it further? It doesn’t cost anything! That’s exactly what the authors did, and
it turns out that we can even simulate the use of prosthetics. However, since we don’t need to manufacture
these prosthetics, we can try a large number of different designs and evaluate their usefulness
without paying a dime. How cool is that? So far, we have hamstrung this poor character
many-many times, so why not try to heal it? With this technique, we can also quickly test
the effect of different kinds of surgeries on the movement of the patient. With this, you can see here how a hamstring
surgery can extend the range of motion of this skeleton. It also tells us not to try our luck with
one-legged squats. You heard it here first folks. Thanks for watching and for your generous
support, and I'll see you next time!

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