Watch squishy creatures evolve to run
CORNELL (US) — A computer algorithm shows virtual “softbots” evolving muscle-like features and teaching 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 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.
One of the virtual creatures in stages of its movement. (Credit: Nick Cheney, et al./Cornell Creative Machines Lab)
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.
The paper describing these soft-bodied robots will appear in Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference. Lead author Nick Cheney, a Cornell University graduate student, will present the paper at the July conference in Amsterdam.
Additional researchers from Cornell and University of Wyoming contributed to the research, which the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funded.
Source: Cornell University
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