A Robot that Walks: Emergent Behaviors from a Carefully Evolved Network

Unknown author (1989-02-01)

Most animals have significant behavioral expertise built in without having to explicitly learn it all from scratch. This expertise is a product of evolution of the organism; it can be viewed as a very long term form of learning which provides a structured system within which individuals might learn more specialized skills or abilities. This paper suggests one possible mechanism for analagous robot evolution by describing a carefully designed series of networks, each one being a strict augmentation of the previous one, which control a six legged walking machine capable of walking over rough terrain and following a person passively sensed in the infrared spectrum. As the completely decentralized networks are augmented, the robot's performance and behavior repertoire demonstrably improve. The rationale for such demonstrations is that they may provide a hint as to the requirements for automatically building massive networks to carry out complex sensory-motor tasks. The experiments with an actual robot ensure that an essence of reality is maintained and that no critical problems have been ignored.