Evolving robot controllers for a bio-hybrid system

Pedro Mariano, Ziad Salem, Rob Mills, Stefan Schönwetter-Fuchs-Schistek, Luís Correia, Thomas Schmickl
In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Living and synthetic systems (2018), 155-162


In this paper we report the first results of evolving bio-hybrid societies. Our goal is to have robots that are integrated in an animal society, and here we evolve robot controllers using animals as fitness providers, directly judging the success of integration. In particular, we are using juvenile honeybees and robots that are able to produce vibration patterns. Previous studies have shown that honeybees react to different vibration patterns, such as exhibiting freezing or stopping behaviours. In this paper we investigate whether we are able to evolve a vibration pattern that stops bees in a small region. Honeybees were placed in two containers with no communication between them: one with an active, vibrating robot, and a second with a passive robot. Post-hoc evaluations of key evolved digital genotypes generally confirm fitness values obtained during evolution. We also tested the transferability of key genotypes to a single container, in which bees are free to visit one vibrating and two dummy robots. Encouragingly, most genotypes are able to selectively stop bees, i.e., only in the vicinity of the vibrating robot, despite having been evolved under the more constrained setup. These results speak to the value of an evolutionary approach for discovering how to interact with animals.

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