Infoscience

Conference paper

Evolution of functional specialization in a morphologically homogeneous robot

A central tenet of embodied artificial intelligence is that intelligent behavior arises out of the coupled dynamics between an agent's body, brain and environment. It follows that the complexity of an agents's controller and morphology must match the complexity of a given task. However, more complex task environments require the agent to exhibit different behaviors, which raises the question as to how to distribute responsibility for these behaviors across the agents's controller and morphology. In this work a robot is trained to locomote and manipulate an object, but the assumption of functional specialization is relaxed: the robot has a segmented body plan in which the front segment may participate in locomotion and object manipulation, or it may specialize to only participate in object manipulation. In this way, selection pressure dictates the presence and degree of functional specialization rather than such specialization being enforced a priori. It is shown that for the given task, evolution tends to produce functionally specialized controllers, even though successful generalized controllers can also be evolved. Moreover, the robot's initial conditions and training order have little effect on the frequency of finding specialized controllers, while the inclusion of additional proprioceptive feedback increases this frequency.

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