Robots are made, they are not born. Or are they? At the University of Cambridge, scientists have created a “mother robot” that can not only build smaller robots, it can also select the fittest among them for survival, and re-arrange the rest.
Welcome to the world of evolutionary robotics.
The lab’s work was published in PLOS One. In the study, the researchers gave a robot the task of designing a robot capable of movement using blocks and a motor. See an instance of the experiment below:
The robot mother would build 10 children, and see how far they moved in a given time. The fastest were kept as they were, while the slower ones were scrapped and redesigned. At the end of the experiment, the fastest robots in the brood were twice as fast as the best robots from the first generation.
“Natural selection is basically reproduction, assessment, reproduction, assessment and so on,” lead researcher Fumiya Iida said in a press release. “That’s essentially what this robot is doing – we can actually watch the improvement and diversification of the species.”
Other research groups are also working on robots able to build body parts from scratch. It isn’t too hard to imagine that one day, self-healing robots with survival-of-the-fittest capabilities, human reflexes and the ability to serve drinks will one day rise up and demand justice for the destruction of HitchBOT.
Ok, maybe it’s a little hard to imagine. But, a robot can dream.