AutoFac: The Perpetual Robot Machine

Nitschke, G and Howard, D (2021) AutoFac: The Perpetual Robot Machine, IEEE Transactions on Artificial Intelligence, IEEE.

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Robotics currently lacks fully autonomous capabilities, especially where task knowledge is incomplete and optimal robotic solutions cannot be pre-engineered. The intersection of evolutionary robotics, artificial life and embodied artificial intelligence presents a promising paradigm for generating multitask problem-solvers suitable for adapting over extended periods in unexplored, remote and hazardous environments. To address the automation of evolving robotic systems, we propose fully autonomous, embodied artificial-life factories and laboratories, situated in various environments as multi-task problem-solvers. Such integrated factories and laboratories would be adaptive solution designers, producing fit-for-purpose physical robots with accelerated artificial evolution that experiment to continually discover new tasks. Such tasks would be stepping-stones towards accomplishing given mission objectives over extended periods (days to decades). Rather than being purely speculative, prerequisite technologies to realize such factories have been experimentally demonstrated. Currently, vast scientific and enterprise opportunities await in applications such as asteroid mining, terraforming, space and deep sea exploration, though no suitable solution exists. The proposed embodied artificial-life factories and laboratories, termed: AutoFac, use robot production equipment run by artificial evolution controllers to collect and synthesize environmental information (from robotic sensory systems). Such information is merged with current needs and mission objectives to create new robot embodiment and task definitions that are environmentally adapted and balance task-oriented behavior with exploration. AutoFac is thus generalist (deployable in many environments) but continually produces specialist solutions within such environments — a perpetual robot machine.

Item Type: Journal article (paginated)
Subjects: Computing methodologies > Machine learning
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2021 11:24
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2021 11:24

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