Robots capable of learning from memories are in the early stages of development. This is due to a revolutionary new robotic system that allows machines to evolve in order to improve their performance.
A mechanical arm constructs ‘baby robots’ which learn to move independently with no human intervention. Ultimately, the aim of this project is to create robots that can adapt to their environment.
While it may seem like science fiction, researchers from Zurich and Cambridge have managed to develop robots that can build other robots – improving after each generation. However, anyone worried about the earth being taken over by machines need not worry, at least for the time being.
The technology is very much in its early days, currently consisting of ‘baby robots’ (plastic cubes with a motor inside) which are assembled by the robotic arm. The ‘mother’ robot glues together its offspring in different ways depending on the needs of its surroundings.
The setup may be simple, but the system itself is nothing short of ingenious.
Ten generations of children were built in total, and the final version was able to travel twice as far as the first – displaying artificial evolution.
It is believed that studying this process will give us new insights into how biological evolution works. The project may even be able to shed light onto how the first intelligent life came to be.
One of the project’s long term ambitions is to create robots that are creative, innovative and able to adapt and improve themselves, rather than simply being capable of performing simple tasks.
This may have huge benefits in the future. These intelligent robots will be able to work in factories, not just constructing cars, but looking for and fixing defects in them. They could be applied in agriculture; trying different methods of crop harvesting to see which produces the greatest yield.
By implementing mechanics from the natural world into the development of robotics, we are closer than ever to creating robots similar those seen in sci-fi films, with current estimates suggesting that we will be able to produce artificially intelligent robots within the next 30 years.