Once More Unto the Breach: Co-evolving a Robot and its Simulator
Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems (ALIFE9), , 57-62, 2004
Abstract: One of the major challenges facing evolutionary robotics is crossing the reality gap: How to transfer evolved controllers from simulated robots to real robots while maintaining the behavior observed in simulation. Most attempts to cross the reality gap have either applied massive amounts of noise to the simulation, or conducted most or all of the evolution onboard the physical robot, an approach that can be prohibitively costly or slow. In this paper we present a new co-evolutionary approach, which we call the estimation-exploration algorithm. The algorithm automatically adapts the robot simulator using behavior of the target robot, and adapts the behavior of the robot using the robot simulator. This approach has four benefits: the process of simulator and controller evolution is automatic; it requires a minimum of hardware trials on the target robot; it could be used in conjunction with other approaches to automated behavior transferal from simulation to reality; and the algorithm itself is generalizable to other problem domains.
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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).