The ability to express diverse behaviors is a key requirement for most biological systems. Underpinning behavioral diversity in the natural world is the embodied interaction between the brain, body, and environment. Dynamical systems form the basis of embodied agents, and can express complex behavioral modalities without any conventional computation. While significant study has focused on designing dynamical systems agents with complex behaviors, for example, passive walking, there is still a limited understanding about how to drive diversity in the behavior of such systems. In this article, we present a novel hardware platform for studying the emergence of individual and collective behavioral diversity in a dynamical system. The platform is based on the so-called Bernoulli ball, an elegant fluid dynamics phenomenon in which spherical objects self-stabilize and hover in an airflow. We demonstrate how behavioral diversity can be induced in the case of a single hovering ball via modulation of the environment. We then show how more diverse behaviors are triggered by having multiple hovering balls in the same airflow. We discuss this in the context of embodied intelligence and open-ended evolution, suggesting that the system exhibits a rudimentary form of evolutionary dynamics in which balls compete for favorable regions of the environment and exhibit intrinsic “alive” and “dead” states based on their positions in or outside of the airflow.

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