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Science & Technology

Evolutionary robots

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Aug 15, 1995 | From the print edition

Taking inspiration from Darwin's theory of evolution, scientists from the
Sussex University, UK, have developed a technique for evolving designs
for neural network controlled robots
with greater self-sufficiency.

The approach is similar to the concept of natural selection - here computer programmes which allow a
degree of 'free choice' in the manoeuvres defined, and those that perform
best are selected to breed the next
generation robots. The researchers of
the university's Evolutionary Research
Group are employing Mr Chips - a
mobile robot with a head that holds a
laptop computer, and a body consisting of an array of processors, printed
circuit boards and antennae.

Special attention is being focussed
on the study of insects to understand the biological mechanisms
underlying intelligent activity on
which robotic movement could be
based. Says Dave Cliff, lecturer in the
Computer Science and Artificial
Intelligence department at the university, "The fact that generally few
nerve cells are involved in generating
behaviour in insects makes it more
practicable to model insect nervous
systems on currently available computers."

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