Machine Learning is Helping Researchers Create Lifelike Animal Simulations

Pranav Dar 07 Mar, 2018 • 2 min read


  • A machine learning algorithm can simulate the way animals walk
  • Developed by researchers at the University of Manchester, it maps the movement incredibly accurately
  • The algorithm uses the movement of the animal to generate a skeleton model and skin outline
  • Check out how the algo works, along with the video below



From the rhinoceros in Black Panther to Gollum in Lord of the Rings, humans have always had a fascinating with computer simulated animals. The results are usually varied – but we still haven’t got to a point where they look exactly lifelike.

That might be about to change.

Researchers at the University of Manchester have developed and fine-tuned a machine learning algorithm that improves the computer simulations of animals.

A report on revealed that the animal being used behind the machine learning model was a chimpanzee. This will not only help researchers improve their understanding of how the locomotion of animals functions, but also improve the technology behind it.

                                                                       Credit: Bill Sellers

How was the model developed?

The idea behind the algorithm was to calculate the energy it takes to walk in a stable fashion, as compared to other movement patterns. A full-body scan of the chimpanzee was taken to create the model. Using this scan, the researchers generated an outline of the skeleton and the skin.

The skeletal model was then used to define the joints, muscles and limbs for the simulation. The final step involved analyzing the movement of the animal while it was made to walk.

Check out the video of the simulated chimpanzee walking below:


Our take on this

This study will be of great help to the animal bio-mechanical research community. Until now, machine learning algorithms were on the basic scale when it came to replicating the movement of animals. This should help speed along the process for everyone.

But outside that field, can you imagine how much more realistic those simulated animals will become in movies? From animated features to novel adaptations, this could be a potential game changer once it arrives in mainstream cinema.


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Pranav Dar 07 Mar 2018

Senior Editor at Analytics Vidhya. Data visualization practitioner who loves reading and delving deeper into the data science and machine learning arts. Always looking for new ways to improve processes using ML and AI.

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Responses From Readers


MahtabMd 08 Mar, 2018

Why just in movies. They will create animal robots with those movements.

Jean-Claude KOUASSI
Jean-Claude KOUASSI 13 Mar, 2018

That is particularly interesting. Perhaps, the results of these researches will help improve some awesome systems like ROS (Robotic Operating System).