The University of Southampton

ALIFE conference to reveal new approaches to robot role-play

Published: 29 July 2008

The use of artificial evolution to enable robots to assume roles will be described by researchers at the ALIFE conference in Winchester this week.

On Friday 8 August, a paper entitled Self-Assembly in Physical Autonomous Robots: the Evolutionary Robotics Approach will be presented. The researchers will describe a new approach to the design of homogenous neuro-controllers for self-assembly in physical autonomous robots in which no assumptions are made about how agents allocate roles.

The researchers will describe how artificial evolution is used to set the parameters of a dynamic neural network that when ported on two physical robots allows them to co-ordinate their actions in order to decide who will grip whom.

The authors of the paper are: Elio Tuci, Christos Ampatzis and Marco Dorigo at IRIDIA, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, Vito Trianni at ISTC, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome, Italy, and Anders Christensen at DCTI-ISCTE, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.

The newly-formed Science and Engineering of Natural Systems (SENSe) group within the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) is hosting this year’s conference, which will take place at the University of Winchester West Downs Campus, involving 250 participants and more paper presentations than ever before.

`This is a critical time for Artificial Life,' said Dr Seth Bullock at ECS, the conference chairman. `The field is on the verge of synthesising living cells, a feat that the Artificial Life community could only dream of when it started out in the late 80s.'

Keynote speakers include internationally leading experts such as Professor Stuart Kauffman, author of The Origins of Order, Professor Peter Schuster, editor-in-chief of the journal Complexity, Professor Eva Jablonka, author of Evolution in Four Dimensions (with Marion Lamb), and Professor Andrew Ellington, a leading pioneer in the new science of synthetic biology.

Professor Takashi Ikegami from the University of Tokyo will open the conference, speaking on work spanning self-organisation and autopoiesis in systems of birds, robots, children, flies, cells, and even oil droplets. The conference is unified by a focus on understanding the fundamental behavioural dynamics of embedded, embodied, evolving and adaptive systems.

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