Erin Ross Jul 26
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Online evolution lets robots learn, adapt and cooperate

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Robots are normally only good at the task they are programmed to do. Now, scientists have programmed robotic controllers to learn to avoid obstacles and cooperate by mimicking Darwinian evolution.

Just like genes, the robot's programming could mutate and be selected upon. Additionally, like in evolution, the robots could co-opt previous parts of their programming to find solutions more quickly. Because the robots were connected online, when they were close together they were also able to exchange their evolving robo-genomes.

Why it matters: Robots are usually only programmed for one task, and when confronted with an obstacle, they can falter. Online evolution allows them to adapt and learn to find solutions outside of their programming.

"It is not directly analogous to nature, but it is inspired by nature," Luís Correia, a scientist at the University of Lisbon in Portugal and an author of the study told Axios.