Robotic Evolutionary Self-Programming and Self-Assembling Organisms
Duration: 3/2008 – 9/2013 Funding: FP7
The Replicator project focuses on the development of an advanced robotic system, consisting of a super-large-scale swarm of small autonomous mobile micro-robots that are capable of self-assembling into large artificial organisms. These robotic organisms posses common energy and information buses as well as reliable legged, wheeled or climbing locomotion, based om modular sub-systems which can be autonomously reconfigured. Thanks to the heterogeneity of the elementary robots and their capability to share resources and communicate, the robotic organisms are able to achieve a large computational power, and rich close-and far-range sensing. The energy is autonomously harvested from external power sources.
The main goal of the project is to develop novel principles underlying these robotic organisms, such as self-configuration, self-adjustment, and self learning. The bio-inspired evolutionary approach and evolvable hardware structure adopted in this project enable the robotic organisms to emerge new functionalities, to develop their own cognitive and control structures and, finally, to work autonomously in uncertain situations without human supervision. Ultimately, these robotic organisms, which are extremely adaptive, robust, scalable and rich in sensing and actuating capabilities, will be used to build autonomous sensor networks, capable of self-spreading and self-maintaining in open-ended, even hazardous, environments.
Almende was primarily responsible for the cognition of robotic organisms through sensor fusion, as well as creating the control schemes which enabled robotic organisms to exhibit self-organized control based on sensory inputs and their own operational settings, as well as testing and optimizing the aforementioned in the provided test settings.
The project contributed to our robotics expertise, and was one of the first projects where we experimented with distributed control of robots to create artificial, self-organized 'organisms' that were able to operate with a limited sense of autonomy.