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Artificial Life (2022) 28 (4): 479–498.
Published: 01 November 2022
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In Evolutionary Robotics, Lexicase selection has proven effective when a single task is broken down into many individual parameterizations. Evolved individuals have generalized across unique configurations of an overarching task. Here, we investigate the ability of Lexicase selection to generalize across multiple tasks, with each task again broken down into many instances. There are three objectives: to determine the feasibility of introducing additional tasks to the existing platform; to investigate any consequential effects of introducing these additional tasks during evolutionary adaptation; and to explore whether the schedule of presentation of the additional tasks over evolutionary time affects the final outcome. To address these aims we use a quadruped animat controlled by a feed-forward neural network with joint-angle, bearing-to-target, and spontaneous sinusoidal inputs. Weights in this network are trained using evolution with Lexicase-based parent selection. Simultaneous adaptation in a wall crossing task (labelled wall-cross ) is explored when one of two different alternative tasks is also present: turn-and-seek or cargo-carry . Each task is parameterized into 100 distinct variants, and these variants are used as environments for evaluation and selection with Lexicase. We use performance in a single-task wall-cross environment as a baseline against which to examine the multi-task configurations. In addition, the objective sampling strategy (the manner in which tasks are presented over evolutionary time) is varied, and so data for treatments implementing uniform sampling, even sampling, or degrees of generational sampling are also presented. The Lexicase mechanism successfully integrates evolution of both turn-and-seek and cargo-carry with wall-cross , though there is a performance penalty compared to single task evolution. The size of the penalty depends on the similarity of the tasks. Complementary tasks ( wallcross / turn-and-seek ) show better performance than antagonistic tasks ( wall-cross / cargo-carry ). In complementary tasks performance is not affected by the sampling strategy. Where tasks are antagonistic, uniform and even sampling strategies yield significantly better performance than generational sampling. In all cases the generational sampling requires more evaluations and consequently more computational resources. The results indicate that Lexicase is a viable mechanism for multitask evolution of animat neurocontrollers, though the degree of interference between tasks is a key consideration. The results also support the conclusion that the naive, uniform random sampling strategy is the best choice when considering final task performance, simplicity of implementation, and computational efficiency.
Artificial Life (2019) 25 (3): 236–249.
Published: 01 August 2019
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Bipedal hopping is an efficient form of locomotion, yet it remains relatively rare in the natural world. Previous research has suggested that the tail balances the angular momentum of the legs to produce steady state bipedal hopping. In this study, we employ a 3D physics simulation engine to optimize gaits for an animat whose control and morphological characteristics are subject to computational evolution, which emulates properties of natural evolution. Results indicate that the order of gene fixation during the evolutionary process influences whether a bipedal hopping or quadrupedal bounding gait emerges. Furthermore, we found that in the most effective bipedal hoppers the tail balances the angular momentum of the torso, rather than the legs as previously thought. Finally, there appears to be a specific range of tail masses, as a proportion of total body mass, wherein the most effective bipedal hoppers evolve.
Artificial Life (2017) 23 (1): 58–79.
Published: 01 February 2017
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We investigate a hierarchical approach to robot control inspired by joint-level control in animals. The method combines a high-level controller, consisting of an artificial neural network (ANN), with joint-level controllers based on digital muscles . In the digital muscle model (DMM), morphological and control aspects of joints evolve concurrently, emulating the musculoskeletal system of natural organisms. We introduce and compare different approaches for connecting outputs of the ANN to DMM-based joints. We also compare the performance of evolved animats with ANN-DMM controllers with those governed by only high-level (ANN-only) and low-level (DMM-only) controllers. These results show that DMM-based systems outperform their ANN-only counterparts while also exhibiting less complex ANNs in terms of the number of connections and neurons. The main contribution of this work is to explore the evolution of artificial systems where, as in natural organisms, some aspects of control are realized at the joint level.