Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How the body affects the mind - On the effects of robot configuration on evolved behavior

The design of robotic controllers through evolutionary methods requires making a large number of choices about the experimental setup, which are often left to the expertise or naïveté of the experimenter. Although much attention is normally given to the fitness function or the genotype-to-phenotype mapping determining the robot controller, the robot configuration is often selected with little care. Yet, an ill-defined configuration - in terms of the selected subset of the sensory-motor system, or in the pre-processing of the raw sensor data - may be decisive in determining the failure of the evolutionary process.

Different emerged patterns 
simulated with ARGoS
In our paper "On the effects of the robot configuration on evolving coordinated motion behaviors" we studied the effect of different robot configurations on the ability to evolve efficient behaviors for a swarm robotics system. In this domain, the choice of a good configuration is fundamental as even small details can lead to large differences in the group behavior. To demonstrate the importance of the robot configuration, we test different alternatives and measure the group performance on a bi-objective scale.

The results show that different configurations not only have a strong effect on performance, but they also correspond to behaviors with radically different features concerning the organization of the group.

The following video illustrates three basic behaviors that emerged: wavefront, train and flocking:

For more information, see:

I. Fehérvári, V. Trianni, and W. Elmenreich. On the effects of the robot configuration on evolving coordinated motion behaviors. In Proceedings of the IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation. IEEE, June 2013.

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