For this incredibly smart robot, family comes first

14 Aug 2015

A robot has been developed that can create ‘children’ robots, improving on each one as it walks off into the distance.

The mother constructs the baby bots and tests them for effectiveness. After judging their capabilities, the mother then starts again, looking to make a better child each time.

What adds to the remarkable feat is that the mother robot is completely independent, not relying on human interaction.

The test is basically a walking challenge. The mother places parts together, runs a motor and sees how far each of the baby robots can travel.

Then it alters the design slightly to attain a better distance. It is Darwinism, robot form.

“Natural selection is basically reproduction, assessment, reproduction, assessment and so on,” said lead researcher Dr Fumiya Iida of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, who worked in collaboration with researchers at ETH Zurich on the paper.

“That’s essentially what this robot is doing – we can actually watch the improvement and diversification of the species.”

We all know what this means. Any day now robots will stroll down the street, shutting our shops, breaking our baguettes in half and sending us off to work in labour camps.

Not so, though, says Iida, who claims we have a long time to wait before technology can get anywhere close to human-capable robots.

“I don’t think it’s so easy to make a robot similar to ourselves, capable like ourselves. I see a long way to go, maybe 150 years of research is required.

“But, on the other hand, we have a lot of capabilities available here that will help us really enhance copied biology.”

Here’s the robot in action. You decide.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic