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Evaluation of Frameworks That Combine Evolution and Learning to Design Robots in Complex Morphological Spaces

Li, Wei; Buchanan, Edgar; Goff, Léni K. Le; Hart, Emma; Hale, Matthew F.; Wei, Bingsheng; Carlo, Matteo De; Angus, Mike; Woolley, Robert; Gan, Zhongxue; Winfield, Alan F.; Timmis, Jon; Eiben, Agoston E.; Tyrrell, Andy M.


Wei Li

Edgar Buchanan

Matthew F. Hale

Bingsheng Wei

Matteo De Carlo

Mike Angus

Robert Woolley

Zhongxue Gan

Alan F. Winfield

Jon Timmis

Agoston E. Eiben

Andy M. Tyrrell


Jointly optimising both the body and brain of a robot is known to be a challenging task, especially when attempting to evolve designs in simulation that will subsequently be built in the real world. To address this, it is increasingly common to combine evolution with a learning algorithm that can either improve the inherited controllers of new offspring to fine tune them to the new body design or learn them from scratch. In this paper an approach is proposed in which a robot is specified indirectly by two compositional pattern producing networks (CPPN) encoded in a single genome, one which encodes the brain and the other the body. The body part of the genome is evolved using an evolutionary algorithm (EA), with an individual learning algorithm (also an EA) applied to the inherited controller to improve it. The goal of this paper is to determine how to utilise the results of learning process most effectively to improve task performance of the robot. Specifically, three variants are investigated: (1) evolution of the body+controller only; (2) a learning algorithm is applied to the inherited controller with the learned fitness assigned to the genome; (3) learning is applied and the genome is updated with the learned controller, as well as being assigned the learned fitness. Experiments are performed in three different scenarios chosen to favour different bodies and locomotion patterns. It is shown that better performance can be obtained using learning but only if the learned controller is inherited by the offspring.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 6, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 8, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 13, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 8, 2023
Print ISSN 1089-778X
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Morphological Evolution, Evolution and Learning, Embodied Intelligence
Public URL


Evaluation of frameworks that combine evolution and learning to design robots in complex morphological spaces (accepted version) (38.5 Mb)

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