Food Sources

Any body part within a biomechanical organism or structure can be turned into a food source. So this means that food does not simply have to remain non-moving within the virtual world. You can build neural networks to control its movements throughout the virtual world. One way this could be used is in predator-prey relationships. Prey organisms could be turned into moving food sources for predators, while herbivore prey would eat immobile food. To use food within your simulation there are several things that need to be done.

  1.  Define a part in the simulation as a food source.
  2.  Define an odor to be associated with the food so the biomechanical organism can find it. Click on this link to find out more about how to add an odor/odor sensor.
  3.  Add a mouth to the biomechanical organism so it can eat.
  4.  Add a stomach to the biomechanical organism so it can store the energy it gets from the food.

A mouth can be added anywhere on your biomechanical organism. When it is within a user-defined distance from a food source it can transfer food from the source into a stomach in the biomechanical organism. This transfer only occurs if the mouth is stimulated using a neuron to eat, and the mouth is close enough to the food. The food is stored as caloric energy in the stomach. The stored energy is slowly used as the animal goes about its business, and if it reaches 0 then it can be considered to be "dead." At the moment this does not really mean anything, but I have plans to add the ability of the stomach to disable all locomotive parts when its energy level reaches 0. If this happened the organism would literally keel-over dead. Please see the section on the mouth and the stomach for more details on how these parts work.

Any part can be turned into a food source by setting the FoodSource property to be true. This will refresh the property display to show several new properties specific to food. These are shown below. You simply need to configure these values to add a new food source.

Food Energy Content
This is how many calories a single piece of food is worth.
Default value:  1 KC/Q (Kilo-Calorie/Quantity of food)
Acceptable range:  Any value greater than or equal to 0.

Food Quantity
This is how many pieces of food are available in this part.
Default value:  100
Acceptable range:  Any value greater than or equal to 0.

Food Replenishment Rate
How fast the food is replenished.
Default value:  1 Q/s
Acceptable range:  Any value greater than or equal to 0.

Max Food Quantity
The maximum amount of food this part can contain. It will not be replenished beyond this amount.
Default value:  10 K
Acceptable range:  Any value greater than or equal to 0.

A food source starts out with an initial quantity of food. When biomechanical organisms eat the food it takes it away from the source. When the source reaches zero no food is present any longer and none of the organisms can eat from this source. However, the source is not gone for good. Just like grass will grow back after a cow grazes, a food source can be configured to replinish itself over time. This can be done by setting the Food Replinishment Rate property. It tells how many units of food will be added to the source each second. This lets you maintain a constant supply of food in the environment to keep your biomechanical organisms alive.