Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Evolutionary Robotics To Design Better Robots

Robots that are able to change their body forms while learning to walk developed into more robust robots, according to University of Vermont roboticist Josh Bongard.

Bongard created simulated robots and physical robots that changed their body forms while learning to walk. The evolving robots learned to walk more rapidly than those with fixed forms.


('Body change... actually helps us design better robots')

“But we don’t know how to program robots very well,” Bongard says, because robots are complex systems. In some ways, they are too much like people for people to easily understand them.

“They have lots of moving parts. And their brains, like our brains, have lots of distributed materials: there’s neurons and there’s sensors and motors and they’re all turning on and off in parallel,” Bongard says, “and the emergent behavior from the complex system which is a robot, is some useful task like clearing up a construction site or laying pavement for a new road.” Or at least that’s the goal.

Using a sophisticated computer simulation, Bongard unleashed a series of synthetic beasts that move about in a 3-dimensional space. “It looks like a modern video game,” he says. Each creature -- or, rather, generations of the creatures -- then run a software routine, called a genetic algorithm, that experiments with various motions until it develops a slither, shuffle, or walking gait -- based on its body plan -- that can get it to the light source without tipping over.

“The snake and reptilian robots are, in essence, training wheels,” says Bongard, “they allow evolution to find motion patterns quicker, because those kinds of robots can’t fall over. So evolution only has to solve the movement problem, but not the balance problem, initially. Then gradually over time it’s able to tackle the balance problem after already solving the movement problem.”


('Lego robot built as proof of concept)

Science fiction writers seem quite cautious about the idea of robots that evolve on their own. In his 1953 short story Second Variety, claws that come up from underground seem to demonstrate machine evolution:

The new varieties of claws. We're completely at their mercy, aren't we? By now they've probably gotten into the UN lines, too. It makes me wonder if we're not seeing the beginning of a new species. The new species. Evolution. The race to come after man."

More recently, Rudy Rucker described boppers, self-reproducing robots that changed their shapes at will:

In the shaft's great, vertical tunnel, bright beings darted through the hot light; odd-shaped living machines that glowed with all the colors of the rainbow. These were the boppers; self-reproducing robots who obeyed no man. Some looked humanoid, some looked like spiders, some looked like snakes, some looked like bats. All were covered with flickercladding, a microwired imipolex compound that could absorb and emit light.

If you're interested in robots that are able to deal with changes in their shape, read about the starfish robots created at Cornell university; these robots walk after conceptualizing their own structure.

From University of Vermont press release.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/20/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

San Francisco Wants ED-209, Or Maybe Robocop
'The Enforcement Droid series 209 is a self-sufficient law enforcement robot...' - Robocop (Movie).

Thermite's Robot Firefighter
Possibly worthy of Transformers!

Project MARCH VII Exoskeleton Video
'...devising rigid metallic clothing.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1929.

LoadRunner Robot Works Alone, Or In A Group
'They marched in unison, seven of them...' - Isaac Asimov, 1944.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

San Francisco Wants ED-209, Or Maybe Robocop
'The Enforcement Droid series 209 is a self-sufficient law enforcement robot...'

Seoul Self-Driving 42dot Bus Unveiled
'Buses without drivers moved close to the curb and stopped at intervals.'

T. Gondii And The Leaders Of The Pack
'... infected males were more than 46 times more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected males.'

'Parastronaut' First Astronaut With Disability From ESA (Updated!)
'He had left Earth to get away from its gravitational field...'

MIT Self-Assembling Reprogrammable Materials
'Faster the cubes moved; faster the circle revolved; the pyramids raised themselves, stood bolt upright on their square bases...'

Mem, The All Your Memories, Super Note-Taking App
'Life experience is linearly additive, but the correlation of memory impressions is an unlimited expansion.'

Porcine Fat Cells For 3D-Printed Whole Pork Products
'I grabbed two Syntho-Steaks out of the freezer...'

LANIUS Loitering Drone Munition Scouts And Maps
'... micro-missiles proceeding at walking pace.'

Copilot Software AI Training Sued By Involuntary Contributors
'...we've promised him a generous pension from the royalties.'

Thin Film Dome Protects Cities From Nuclear Blasts
'What fabric can take that kind of a load? Synthetic spider silk.'

Mars Space Weather Alert (MSWA) System
'On the three-dimensional map at weather headquarters... the storm was colored orange.'

Thermite's Robot Firefighter
Possibly worthy of Transformers!

Fabrican Dress Sprayed Directly Onto Model On Coperni Runway
'...that might appeal to women, because by discharging from a few or a few dozen bottles a liquid that immediately set into fabrics... they could have a new creation every time.'

Israel Deploys Sharp Shooter AI-powered Robot Guns
'They lock onto the target... and do the actual shooting once the target is identified.'

Drone Loiter Munitions Now Available
'...a series of airborne loiter-drones posted on indefinite guard above.'

Amazon Blimp Parent Drone Concept
'So the parent drone carries a spotter that it launches...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.