The Golem Project

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Mon Oct 02 2000 - 22:48:06 MDT

The Golem Project
Complex biological forms reproduce by taking advantage of an arbitrarily complex
set of auto-catalyzing chemical reactions. Biological life is in control of its
own means of reproduction, and this autonomy of design and manufacture is a key
element which has not yet been understood or reproduced artificially. To this
date, robots - a form of artificial life - are still designed laboriously and
constructed by teams of human engineers at great cost. Few robots are available
because these costs must be absorbed through mass production that is justified
only for toys, weapons, and industrial systems like automatic teller machines.
In the Golem project (Genetically Organized Lifelike Electro Mechanics) we
conducted a set of experiments in which simple electro-mechanical systems
evolved from scratch to yield physical locomoting machines. Like biological
lifeforms whose structure and function exploit the behaviors afforded by their
own chemical and mechanical medium, our evolved creatures take advantage of the
nature of their own medium - thermoplastic, motors, and artificial neurons. We
thus achieve autonomy of design and construction using evolution in a limited
universe physical simulation, coupled to off-the-shelf rapid manufacturing
technology. This is the first time robots have been robotically designed and
robotically fabricated.

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