Sep 9, 2015

Robot mother builds and improves its own children

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, robotics/AI

We developed a robot that creates robots.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have built a mother robot that independently builds its own children and then tests their performance to inform the design of the next generation. By analyzing the data it collects from observing the child, the mother robot ensures that preferential traits are passed down to the next iteration, while letting weaknesses fall by the wayside.

“We developed a robot that creates robots. And basically we have a mother robot that combines active and passive modules using glue to make other children robots. And these robots, as the mother creates them and puts them to work, she evaluates how they’re behaving and she uses the data from this behavior to create the next generation of robots,” explained Andre Rosendo, who worked on the project at the University’s Department of Engineering.

With no human intervention beyond a simple computer command to build a robot capable of locomotion, the mother constructs a design using between one and five plastic cubes that are stuck together using glue. Each cube has a small motor inside, so when they are attached to each other in slightly varying formations it produces a different rate of locomotion when the motors are activated. Each robot child is tested on how far it moves from a starting position in a given amount of time, with the best individuals’ traits carried over into the next generation.

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