A team of scientists at the Cambridge University has developed a unique robot with unique capabilities. It’s a mother robot that can have babies, test its offspring to determine which one is doing best and finally modify their designs.
The University has released an amazing video showcasing this special robot building cube babies on its own. Then the robot is seen watching the cube babies take their first steps. After checking the progress of the cubes, the mother robot selects the one that has delivered the best performance and alters their design. The modifications are done in the same manner as evolution takes place in nature.
This is the first time in the history of robotics that the process called natural selection is successfully used for creating a machine. The event surely marks an extremely important step in the quest for AI (artificial intelligence).
Roboticists have programmed the mother-bot to make cube bots with a tiny motor inside them (this gives them the ability to move around) and refine the design of those baby-bots after assessing their performance.
Five separate experiments were carried out to allow the mother robot give birth to a total of 10 generations. On each occasion, the children of the next generation were built based on the design of the fittest bot of the previous generation.
When carrying out those experiments, researchers saw that superior traits were getting inherited by the following generations. They said that the cube bots formed during the final experiment managed to perform tasks assigned to them two times more quickly than the first generation bots.
Dr. Fumiya Iida, the leader of the research team and a member of the Department of Engineering at the Cambridge University, said that the term natural selection is usually used for a process that involves reproduction, review, reproduction, review, and so on. He added that that’s exactly what this newly constructed robot is doing.
Here, it must be mentioned that Dr. Iida conducted this study in partnership with scientists at ETH Zurich.
The robot babies have been designed based on five basic rules; those rules governed their motor commands, shape and construction. The mother-bot tested all its babies by checking the distance covered by them in a given period of time. The robot took around ten minutes to design, make and test each child.