Combining simulation and reality in evolutionary robotics

  • Zagal J
  • Ruiz-Del-Solar J
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Evolutionary Robotics (ER) is a promising methodology, intended for the autonomous development of robots, in which their behaviors are obtained as a consequence of the structural coupling between robot and environment. It is essential that there be a great amount of interaction to generate complex behaviors. Thus, nowadays, it is common to use simulation to speed up the learning process; however simulations are achieved from arbitrary off-line designs, rather than from the result of embodied cognitive processes. According to the reality gap problem, controllers evolved in simulation usually do not allow the same behavior to arise once transferred to the real robot. Some preliminary approaches for combining simulation and reality exist in the ER literature; nonetheless, there is no satisfactory solution available. In this work we discuss recent advances in neuroscience as a motivation for the use of environmentally adapted simulations, which can be achieved through the co-evolution of robot behavior and simulator. We present an algorithm in which only the differences between the behavior fitness obtained in reality versus that obtained in simulations are used as feedback for adapting a simulation. The proposed algorithm is experimentally validated by showing the successful development and continuous transference to reality of two complex low-level behaviors with Sony AIBO1 robots: gait optimization and ball-kicking behavior.

Author-supplied keywords

  • AIBO robots
  • Evolutionary robotics
  • Mobile robotics
  • Organismically inspired robotics
  • RoboCup
  • Simulation of solid dynamics

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