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Virtual, squishy creatures evolve to run using evolutionary algorithms

Date:
April 23, 2013
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Scientists have created a computer algorithm that can be used to witness virtual creatures evolving their squishy, muscle-like features in order to teach themselves to walk.

A research team led by Cornell University's Creative Machines Lab has created a computer algorithm that can be used to witness virtual creatures evolving their squishy, muscle-like features in order to teach themselves to walk.

The team incorporated concepts from developmental biology and how nature builds complex animals -- from jellyfish to jaguars. The result is an array of bizarre, simulated robots that evolve a diverse series of gaits and gallops.

The paper describing these soft-bodied robots will appear in Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference and is titled "Unshackling Evolution: Evolving Soft Robots With Multiple Materials and a Powerful Generative Encoding."

See the video: http://youtu.be/z9ptOeByLA4

Lead author Nick Cheney, a Cornell graduate student, will present the paper at the July conference in Amsterdam. Robert MacCurdy, also a graduate student at Cornell, contributed to the work, as well as Jeff Clune, assistant professor at the University of Wyoming and former visiting scientist at Cornell.

The video shows evolution in action: A creature evolves into a galloping, soft robot over 1,000 generations. While 1,000 generations is relatively short by natural evolution standards, it is enough to demonstrate the power of evolution to create counterintuitive designs, according to the researchers.

In the paper, they describe how they challenged human engineers to design robots made of these soft and hard materials. The human efforts paled in comparison to the designs resulting from evolution.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nick Cheney, Robert MacCurdy, Jeff Clune, Hod Lipson. Unshackling Evolution: Evolving Soft Robots with Multiple Materials and a Powerful Generative Encoding. Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, 2013

Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Virtual, squishy creatures evolve to run using evolutionary algorithms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423135843.htm>.
Cornell University. (2013, April 23). Virtual, squishy creatures evolve to run using evolutionary algorithms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423135843.htm
Cornell University. "Virtual, squishy creatures evolve to run using evolutionary algorithms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423135843.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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