Journal article

Evolution of neural control structures: Some experiments on mobile robots

From perception to action and form action to perception, all elements of an autonomous agent are interdependent and need to be strongly coherent. The final behavior of the agent is the result of the global activity of this loop and every weakness of incoherence of a single element has strong consequences on the performances of the agent. We think that, for the purpose of building autonomous robots, all these elements need to be developed together in continuous interaction with the environment. We describe the implementation of a possible solution (artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms) on a real mobile robot through a set of three different experiments. We focus our attention on three different aspects of the control structure: perception, internal representation and action. In all the experiments these aspects are not considered as single processing elements, but as part of an agent. For every experiment, the advantages and disadvantages of this approach are presented and discussed. The results show that the combination of genetic algorithms and neural networks is a very interesting technique for the development of control structures in autonomous agents. The time necessary for evolution, on the other hand, is very important limitation of the evolutionary approach.

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