But it is Still a Robot!

This months PLoS Biology contains a review article by Floreano and Keller on studies that explore evolution using robots. It is an interesting read.

Evolution of Adaptive Behaviour in Robots by Means of Darwinian Selection

Darwin suggested that adaptation and complexity could evolve by natural selection acting successively on numerous small, heritable modifications. But is this enough? Here, we describe selected studies of experimental evolution with robots to illustrate how the process of natural selection can lead to the evolution of complex traits such as adaptive behaviours. Just a few hundred generations of selection are sufficient to allow robots to evolve collision-free movement, homing, sophisticated predator versus prey strategies, coadaptation of brains and bodies, cooperation, and even altruism. In all cases this occurred via selection in robots controlled by a simple neural network, which mutated randomly.