Mother Robot Evolves Her Children

Apparently, we're running out of robotics post-docs to do the grunt work of evolving robot-kind. Letting the robots do it might work better, anyway.

In a paper published last month in PLOS ONE, Luzius Brodbeck, Simon Hauser, and Fumiya Iida from the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich took things one step further by teaching a “mother robot” to autonomously build children robots out of component parts to see how well they move, doing all of the hard work of robot evolution without any simulation compromises at all.

The basic idea behind evolutionary robotics is to build a whole bunch of simple robots, test them in some way, and then take a few of the most promising robots and use them to inform the design of the following generation. This is generally how biology evolution works (survival of the fittest and whatnot), and the fact that you’re sitting there reading this is a testament to how successful it can be. For those of us who don’t have eons to wait, robots can be forcibly evolved much much faster, as long as you’re willing to focus on just one trait and keep things extremely basic.


(Morphological Evolution of Physical Robots: Building)

This is a UR5 arm “mother robot” (that’s what the paper calls it) constructing a locomotion agent (what I’ve been calling a “child robot”) out of a few standardized parts, including active cubes with one rotating face and smaller passive cubes made out of wood. The mother robot hot glues active and passive cubes together and then transports them to a testing area, where they’re wirelessly activated and an overhead camera watches them wiggle around...

I was fascinated to read this study, because I couldn't help but think of the wonderful 1941 short story The Mechanical Mice, by Eric Frank Russell writing as Maurice A. Hugi. In the story, a man comes back from the future with the design for a robot mother, which is capable of designing and building smaller, mobile robots called golden shuttles:

He said, "The Robot Mother! That's what I made - a duplicate of the Robot Mother. I didn't realize it, but I was patiently building the most dangerous thing in creation, a thing that is a terrible menace because it shares with mankind the ability to propagate. Thank Heaven we stopped it in time!"

..."Did you notice," I went on, "the touch of bee-psychology in our antagonists? You built the hive, and from it emerged workers, warriors, and" - I indicated the dead saunterer - "one drone."

With a sigh of relief, I strolled toward the door. A high whine of midget motors drew my startled attention downward. While Butman and I stared aghast, a golden shuttle slid easily through one of the rat holes, sensed the death of the Robot Mother and scooted back through the other hole before I could stop it...

"Bill," [Burman] mouthed, "your bee analogy was perfect. Don't you understand? There's another swarm! A queen got loose!"

Read more about machine evolution-related articles (from Philip K. Dick's 1953 story Second Variety).

Via IEEE Spectrum.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/29/2015)

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 ")

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out." - Vernor Vinge, 1992.

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.' - Michael Crichton, 1969.

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.' - Anne McCaffrey, 1990.

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.' - Philip K. Dick, 1953.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

3D Printed Artificial Muscles Are Stronger Than Yours
Bots don't need to work out.

Fog Computing (AKA Edge Computing) Ad Hoc Networks
'The tiny devices chirped their impulse codes at one another...'

Dubai Scorpion Police Hoverbike Ready To Pull Young Kirk Over
'Is there a problem, officer?'

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out."

Korean Tesla Model S Video 'Excelsior' Is Indeed Our Motto
'Improving man by bringing him close to Nature, while they combine the sensations of coasting with the interest of seeing the country well...'

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.'

A Bayesian Approach to Safe Imitation Learning For AIs and Robots
Um, how about that pension for the humans who serve as the models for robot behavior?

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.'

Autonomous Cars Talk To Each Other At MCity
'My cars talk to one another.'

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.'

Russian Space Garden
'We saw the gardens, flooded with artificial sunlight...'

Targeted Neuroplasticity Training For 'Downloading Skills'
'I know kung-fu.'

U of M's MCity To Feature Asimov's Automatobuses
Should you turn autonomous buses off?

Crazyflie Drone Swarm Technology
'...Programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern.'

Our GodBot, Who Art In Cyberspace
Vaal hungers! We must serve him.

easyJet Short-Haul Electric Jets
Have a little faith, will you? They're working on it.

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.