Explorations in Evolutionary Robotics
AbstractWe discuss the methodological foundations for our work on the development of cognitive architectures, or control systems, for situated autonomous agents. Our focus is the problems of developing sensorimotor control systems for mobile robots, but we also discuss the applicability of our approach to the study of biological systems. We argue that, for agents required to exhibit sophisticated interactions with their environments, complex sensorimotor processing is necessary, and the design, by hand, of control systems capable of such processing is likely to become prohibitively difficult as complexity increases. We propose an automatic design process involving artificial evolution, wherein the basic building blocks used for evolving cognitive architectures are noise-tolerant dynamical neural networks. These networks may be recurrent and should operate in real time. The evolution should be incremental, using an extended and modified version of a genetic algorithm. Practical constraints suggest that initial architecture evaluations should be done largely in simulation. To support our claims and proposals, we summarize results from some preliminary simulation experiments in which visually guided robots are evolved to operate in simple environments. Significantly, our results demonstrate that robust visually guided control systems evolve from evaluation functions that do not explicitly require monitoring visual input. We outline the difficulties involved in continuing with simulations and conclude by describing specialized visuorobotic equipment, designed to eliminate the need for simulated sensors and actuators.