Evolving Soft Robots

Providing evolution with a larger palette of materials to work with leads to amazingly fun, quirky, lifelike virtual creatures. The bodies of the Softbots are composed of voxels with four different material properties. Voxels may be soft, rigid, or can rhythmically expand and contract with two opposing phases. Body structures formed by the voxels allow for the generation of movement through the interactions of deforming voxels.

Using the CPPN-NEAT generative encoding, the bodies are evolved to produce robots capable of walking in a physics simulation. Evolution allows for a diverse range of solutions on the walking problem by combining voxels to form different classes of body types. The phenotypes produced by CPPN-NEAT exhibit regularity in physical structure and behavior. The diverse range of phenotypes produced by evolution exhibit similarities to real-world biological structures, with organisms evolving locomotion methods such as legs. The results demonstrate the capabilities of regular evolution using CPPNs in conjunction with increasingly complex simulations.


Videos

Evolving Soft Robots with Multiple Materials (muscle, bone, etc.)

Here we evolve the bodies of soft robots made of multiple materials (muscle, bone, & support tissue) to move quickly. Evolution produces a diverse array of fun, wacky, interesting, but ultimately functional soft robots. Enjoy!

This video accompanies the following paper(s):

Evolved Electrophysiological Soft Robots

The research field of evolutionary robotics abstracts some of the major themes in biological evolution (heritable traits, genetic variation, and competition for scarce resources) as tools to allow computers to generate new and interesting virtual creatures. One of the recent themes in this field is towards more embodied robots (those that produce interesting behavior through the design of their bodies, as well as their brains). Here, we build on previous work evolving soft robots to demonstrate the low level embodiment of electrical signals passing information through muscle tissue. Through this work we attempt bridge the divide between embodied cognition and abstracted artificial neural networks.

This video accompanies the following paper(s):

Evolving Soft Robots with Multiple Materials (muscle, bone, etc.)

Here we evolve the bodies of soft robots made of multiple materials (muscle, bone, & support tissue) to move quickly. Evolution produces a diverse array of fun, wacky, interesting, but ultimately functional soft robots. Enjoy!

Evolved Electrophysiological Soft Robots

The research field of evolutionary robotics abstracts some of the major themes in biological evolution (heritable traits, genetic variation, and competition for scarce resources) as tools to allow computers to generate new and interesting virtual creatures.


Publications