Neural networks (NNs) are effective controllers for evolutionary robotics, imposing few limits on potential gaits. Morphology evolved with a controller enables brain and body to become tightly coupled. Typically, NN parameters (sometimes architectures) and animat bodies are randomly initialized at the start of evolution. In this paper, we pretrain NNs with supervised learning, bootstrapping NN outputs towards oscillating behaviors prior to evolution. We focus on quadrupedal gaits as they are well-studied in biology and several common gait patterns have been identified, named, and studied by the research community. We hypothesize that performance of evolved gaits will improve with pretraining compared to beginning evolution with randomly initialized NNs. Our results show that only some pretraining regimens outperform (in terms of distance traveled and viability) random initialization of NN parameters. Furthermore, some regimens introduce an initial bias that is difficult to overcome, resulting in better initial performance but worse performance in the long term.

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