Royal Society Publishing

Evolving controllers for a homogeneous system of physical robots: structured cooperation with minimal sensors

Matt Quinn, Lincoln Smith, Giles Mayley, Phil Husbands


We report on recent work in which we employed artificial evolution to design neural network controllers for small, homogeneous teams of mobile autonomous robots. The robots were evolved to perform a formation–movement task from random starting positions, equipped only with infrared sensors. The dual constraints of homogeneity and minimal sensors make this a non–trivial task. We describe the behaviour of a successful system in which robots adopt and maintain functionally distinct roles in order to achieve the task. We believe this to be the first example of the use of artificial evolution to design coordinated, cooperative behaviour for real robots.