Abstract

This article describes a simulation model in which artificial evolution is used to design homogeneous control structures and adaptive communication protocols for a group of three autonomous simulated robots. The agents are required to cooperate in order to approach a light source while avoiding collisions. The robots are morphologically different: Two of them are equipped with infrared sensors, one with light sensors. Thus, the two morphologically identical robots should take care of obstacle avoidance; the other one should take care of phototaxis. Since all of the agents can emit and perceive sound, the group's coordination of actions is based on acoustic communication. The results of this study are a proof of concept: They show that dynamic artificial neural networks can be successfully synthesized by artificial evolution to design the neural mechanisms required to underpin the behavioral strategies and adaptive communication capabilities demanded by this task. Postevaluation analyses unveil operational aspects of the best evolved behavior. Our results suggest that the building blocks and the evolutionary machinery detailed in the article should be considered in future research work dealing with the design of homogeneous controllers for groups of heterogeneous cooperating and communicating robots.

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