Gongjin Lan, Matteo De Carlo, Fuda van Diggelen, Jakub M. Tomczak, Diederik M. Roijers, A.E. Eiben

Learning directed locomotion in modular robots with evolvable morphologies

In Applied Soft Computing, Volume 111, 2021

DOI 10.1016/j.asoc.2021.107688


The vision behind this paper looks ahead to evolutionary robot systems where morphologies and controllers are evolved together and ‘newborn’ robots undergo a learning process to optimize their inherited brain for the inherited body. The specific problem we address is learning controllers for the task of directed locomotion in evolvable modular robots. To this end, we present a test suite of robots with different shapes and sizes and compare two learning algorithms, Bayesian optimization and HyperNEAT. The experiments in simulation show that both methods obtain good controllers, but Bayesian optimization is more effective and sample efficient. We validate the best learned controllers by constructing three robots from the test suite in the real world and observe their fitness and actual trajectories. The obtained results indicate a reality gap, but overall the trajectories are adequate and follow the target directions successfully.