Engineers develop robots capable of learning, evolving

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 13, 2015
Adjust font size:

A team of engineers has developed a robotic system that can independently build and improve its "offspring", according to a report released Wednesday by the University of Cambridge.

In the experiments conducted by engineers from the University of Cambridge and an institute in Zurich, the "mother robot" can design, built, and test ten generations of "children" - plastic cubes with a small motor inside - largely on its own.

Engineers observed that the "mother robot" was capable of assessing how far its children were able to move, and used the knowledge to enhance the design of the next generation.

The results, reported in the open access journal PLOS One, found that preferential traits were passed down through generations, so that the 'fittest' individuals in the last generation performed a set task twice as quickly as the fittest individuals in the first generation.

The increase in performance over generations of the "children robots" was not only due to the fine-tuning of design parameters, but also because the "mother" was able to invent new shapes and gait patterns for the "children" over time, including some designs that a human designer would not have been able to build, according to the report.

"We think of robots as performing repetitive tasks, and they're typically designed for mass production instead of mass customization, but we want to see robots that are capable of innovation and creativity," said Dr Fumiya Iida, who participated in the project.

The project looks at how robotics can be improved by taking inspiration from nature, whether that's learning about intelligence, or finding ways to improve robotic locomotion. However, a robot requires between ten and 100 times more energy than an animal to do the same thing, according to the report.

"It's still a long way to go before we'll have robots that look, act and think like us," said Iida. "But what we do have are a lot of enabling technologies that will help us import some aspects of biology to the engineering world." Endit

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from