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Embodied Evolution: Distributing an evolutionary algorithm in a population of robots

Elsevier Science
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  • Computer Science
  • Design


We introduce Embodied Evolution (EE) as a new methodology for evolutionary robotics (ER). EE uses a population of physical robots that autonomously reproduce with one another while situated in their task environment. This constitutes a fully distributed evolutionary algorithm embodied in physical robots. Several issues identified by researchers in the evolutionary robotics community as problematic for the development of ER are alleviated by the use of a large number of robots being evaluated in parallel. Particularly, EE avoids the pitfalls of the simulate-and-transfer method and allows the speed-up of evaluation time by utilizing parallelism. The more novel features of EE are that the evolutionary algorithm is entirely decentralized, which makes it inherently scalable to large numbers of robots, and that it uses many robots in a shared task environment, which makes it an interesting platform for future work in collective robotics and Artificial Life. We have built a population of eight robots and successfully implemented the first example of Embodied Evolution by designing a fully decentralized, asynchronous evolutionary algorithm. Controllers evolved by EE outperform a hand-designed controller in a simple application. We introduce our approach and its motivations, detail our implementation and initial results, and discuss the advantages and limitations of EE.

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