Abstract: New Robotics designates an approach to robotics that, in contrast to traditional robotics, employs ideas and principles from biology. While in the traditional approach there are generally accepted methods (e.g. from control theory), designing agents in the New Robotics approach is still largely considered an art. In recent years, we have been developing a set of heuristics or design principles, that on the one hand capture theoretical insights about intelligent – adaptive – behavior, and on the other provide guidance in actually designing and building systems. In this paper we provide an overview of all the principles but focus on the principles of 'ecological balance' which concerns the relation between environment, morphology, materials, and control, and 'sensory-motor coordination' which concerns self-generated sensory stimulation as the agent interacts with the environment and which is a key to the development of high-level intelligence. As we will argue, artificial evolution together with morphogenesis is not only 'nice to have' but is in fact a necessary tool for designing embodied agents.
[edit database entry]
Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).