Edgar Buchanan, Léni K. Le Goff, Emma Hart, A. E. Eiben, Matteo De Carlo, Wei Li, Matthew F. Hale, Mike Angus, Robert Woolley, Alan F. Winfield, Jon Timmis, Andy M. Tyrrell

Evolution of Diverse, Manufacturable Robot Body Plans

In 2020 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence (SSCI), 2020

DOI 10.1109/SSCI47803.2020.9308434


Advances in rapid prototyping have opened up new avenues of research within Evolutionary Robotics in which not only controllers but also the body plans (morphologies) of robots can evolve in real-time and real-space. However, this also introduces new challenges, in that robot models that can be instantiated from an encoding in simulation might not be manufacturable in practice (due to constraints associated with the 3D printing and/or automated assembly processes). We introduce a representation for evolving (wheeled) robots with a printed plastic skeleton, and evaluate three variants of a novelty-search algorithm in terms of their ability to produce populations of manufacturable but diverse robots. While the set of manufacturable robots discovered represent only a small fraction of the overall search space of all robots, all methods are shown to be capable of generating a diverse population of manufacturable robots that we conjecture is large enough to seed an evolving robotic ecosystem.