ROBOT: Evolutionary Robotics

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Thu Apr 19 2001 - 01:11:04 MDT

Evolutionary Robotics

The Biology, Intelligence, and Technology of Self-Organizing Machines
Evolutionary robotics is a new technique for the automatic creation of
autonomous robots. Inspired by the Darwinian principle of selective
reproduction of the fittest, it views robots as autonomous artificial
organisms that develop their own skills in close interaction with the
environment and without human intervention. Drawing heavily on biology and
ethology, it uses the tools of neural networks, genetic algorithms,
dynamic systems, and biomorphic engineering. The resulting robots share
with simple biological systems the characteristics of robustness,
simplicity, small size, flexibility, and modularity.

In evolutionary robotics, an initial population of artificial chromosomes,
each encoding the control system of a robot, is randomly created and put
into the environment. Each robot is then free to act (move, look around,
manipulate) according to its genetically specified controller while its
performance on various tasks is automatically evaluated. The fittest
robots then "reproduce" by swapping parts of their genetic material with
small random mutations. The process is repeated until the "birth" of a
robot that satisfies the performance criteria.

This book describes the basic concepts and methodologies of evolutionary
robotics and the results achieved so far. An important feature is the
clear presentation of a set of empirical experiments of increasing
complexity. Software with a graphic interface, freely available on a
companion web site, will allow the reader to replicate and vary (in
simulation and on real robots) most of the experiments.

Evolutionary Robotics Homepage

--J. R.

Useless hypotheses:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism

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