Abstract

We present a system that can evolve the morphology and the controller of virtual walking and block-throwing creatures (catapults) using a genetic algorithm. The system is based on Sims' work, implemented as a flexible platform with an off-the-shelf dynamics engine. Experiments aimed at evolving Sims-type walkers resulted in the emergence of various realistic gaits while using fairly simple objective functions. Due to the flexibility of the system, drastically different morphologies and functions evolved with only minor modifications to the system and objective function. For example, various throwing techniques evolved when selecting for catapults that propel a block as far as possible. Among the strategies and morphologies evolved, we find the drop-kick strategy, as well as the systematic invention of the principle behind the wheel, when allowing mutations to the projectile.

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