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See Little Robots Get Swole in This Virtual 'Gym'


A multicolored robot flings a block.

Its survival of the fittest: The robots that walk or climb best seed the next generation, while the poor performers are tossed out. This is known as evolutionary robotics.

Credit: MIT CSAIL

If I asked you to design the perfect robot for throwing a block, you'd probably think of something humanoid, with legs for stability and hands for grasping. And who could blame you? If humans are good at anything, it's throwing stuff.

There's a zero percent chance you instead thought of the thing in the video above, a Frankenstein's monster of what appear to be cobbled-together Tetris pieces. That's because a computer "evolved" this robot's body and the brain that controls it in a new platform from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It's called the Evolution Gym, where instead of relying on human designers—and their human biases—the robots of tomorrow can entrust their design to algorithms. "There's a potential to find new, unexpected robot designs, and it also has potential to get more high-performing robots overall," says MIT computer scientist Wojciech Matusik, a cocreator of the system. "If you start from very, very basic structures, how much intelligence can you really create?"

From Wired
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