Friday, June 04, 2010
Nicolas Bredeche and his graduate student Jean-Marc Montanier have spent the last two weeks working in the lab to test out work they had already done in simulation, onto real robots. Nicolas is interested in evolutionary swarm robotics. This is an approach, inspired directly by Darwinian evolution, in which we do not design the robots' controllers (brains) but instead evolve them. In this case the brains are artificial neural networks and the process of artificial evolution evolves the strengths of the connections between the neurons. Nicolas is especially interested in open-ended evolution, in which he - as designer - does not pre-determine the evolved robot behaviours (by specifying an explicit fitness function, i.e. what kinds of behaviours the robots should evolve). Thus, even though this is an artificial system, its evolution is - in a sense - a bit closer to natural than artificial selection.