Great video below – reminiscent of some of the weird creatures I created on Spore, back when that was cool. It’s pretty interesting to see a pair of legs evolve from a blob of virtual “goo” without giving any specific instruction.
I remember someone explaining the necessary conditions of evolution to me as “mutation, competition and reproduction” – by putting in code saying “the fastest animals reproduce the most”, and artificially controlling the “generations” of organisms, they’ve got everything on the list I guess.
The article below is copied wholesale from a blog called Automaton, you can see it here. I edited the pic and cut some of the text out.
Bizarre Soft Robots Evolve to Run
Thu, April 11, 2013
This crazy looking thing is a simulated robot, made up of two different kinds of muscles along with bones and soft tissue for structure. This robot wasn’t designed, it was evolved over a thousand virtual generations to move as fast, as far, and as functionally as possible.
It’s nice that these researchers (including Jeff Clune from the University of Wyoming, who posted this video) are totally aware that these robots are wacky little things, but it’s kind of amazing how successful evolution is at creating success out of just a few basic structures. And in the greater scheme of things, 1,000 generations is not a whole lot: in human terms, that’s only 25,000 years, while modern Homo Sapiens have been around for ten times as long.
The current research has been published in Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, with the impressive title of Unshackling Evolution: Evolving Soft Robots with Multiple Materials and a Powerful Generative Encoding.