Friday, March 11, 1196, 12:00 p.m.

Randall D. Beer
Departments of Computer Engineering and Science and Biology
, Santa Fe Institute and Case Western Reserve University

Adaptive Behavior in Natural and Artificial Organisms

At some level, the challenges faced by all agents operating in the real world exhibit important similarities. This suggests that the biologist seeking to understand the neural mechanisms of animal behavior and the roboticist interested in the construction and control of versatile and robust autonomous robots might have much to learn from one another. This talk will survey a variety of projects at this interface between biology and engineering, including a series of legged robots whose design and control are based on principles of insect walking. Our most recent robot can negotiate irregular, slatted and compliant surfaces using a variety of local leg reflexes and a distributed gait controller based on coordination mechanisms that have been described in the stick insect. I will also describe the simulated evolution of neural circuits for controlling the behavior of model agents, as well as some preliminary attempts to understand the dynamics of the evolved agent-environment systems. Behaviors that have been evolved so far include chemotaxis, walking, sequential decision-making and learning, and simple visually-guided behavior.

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