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 ")

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...' - Martin Caidin, 1972.

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...' - James P. Hogan, 1979.

China Delivery Robot Development Quickens During COVID-2019 Outbreak
'Something very much like a camouflage-painted kangaroo.' - Bruce Sterling, 1994.

 

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

Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.'

reLive Memorial Come Back As A Tree
'It was time - time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

Engineered Living Building Materials
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

Arkangel: Automatic Visual Censoring
It's whatever the Party says it is, Winston.

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...'

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

No Autonomous Trucks? Wait, What?
'...it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

As Big As A Biltong - World's Largest 3D Printer
'Huge and old, it squatted in the center of the settlement park... On the concrete platform... lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'

Drones Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Prison
'And some mega chip inside so it never runs into anything and no cop ever sees it.'

Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...'

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...'

Virtual Whitney Houston In Concert
Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Robot Teaches Itself To Walk
'My whole idea is to get away from a machine with a set of prearranged instructions, and let them teach themselves by trial and error.'

DARPA's Subterranean Challenge
Let the machines explore the underground city!

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.