Journal article

Evolution of solitary and group transport behaviors for autonomous robots capable of self-assembling

Group transport is being performed in many natural systems and has become a canonical task for studying cooperation in robotics. We simulate a system of simple, insect-like robots that can move autonomously and grasp objects as well as each other. We use artificial evolution to produce solitary transport and group transport behaviors. We show that robots, even though not aware of each other, can be effective in group transport. Group transport can even be performed by robots that behave as in solitary transport. Still, robots engaged in group transport can benefit from behaving differently from robots engaged in solitary transport. The best group transport behaviors yielded by half of the evolutions let the robots organize into self-assembled structures. This provides evidence that self-assembly can provide adaptive value to individuals that compete in an artificial evolution based on task performance. We conclude the paper by discussing potential implications for evolutionary biology and robotics.

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