The mother robot that would impress any scientist in the world was designed by experts from the University of Cambridge. What makes it unique is that it can create other robots and even improve their features in such a way that they can have better functions.
The process basically mimics evolution because this particular robot can build other robots by putting pieces together. Some of these have motors that have various functions.
Afterwards, the mother robot watches how its newly-born bots move and keeps the designs of the fastest ones. Similar to the natural selection process, the ones that are not fast enough are disassembled. This way, the robot creates the best generation of robots that it can make with the pieces.
The mother bot built and tested the devices it had developed for about 10 minutes. It started from simple rules and patterns but progressively moved on to much more complex ones that were not even easy to understand for humans.
“Natural selection is basically reproduction, assessment, reproduction, assessment and so on. That’s essentially what this robot is doing — we can actually watch the improvement and diversification of the species,” said lead study author, Fumiya Iida, from Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering, in a news release. ”
The best part was that after a few generations, the newly created robots were able to move two times faster than the first generation. During the trial, the robot was allowed to go as far as ten generations to test their speed and efficiency. Every time, the best robot served as inspiration to create a new one that was better.
While such experiments are usually carried out virtually, this one was done in real life, in a lab. The researchers said that they are planning to combine simulation and live testing to see how far they can get with such machines.
Even if it is unlikely to have machines that are as sophisticated as human beings any time in the near future, there are a lot of things in nature that can inspire the creation of more developed robots.
The results of the study were published in the journal PLOS One.
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