This project introduces a groundbreaking approach that combines artificial evolution and 3D printing to create robots tailored for their environments and has achieved widespread media and academic attention.

Funder: EPSRC

Robotics is changing the landscape of innovation. But traditional design approaches are not suited to novel or unknown habitats and contexts, for instance: robot colonies for ore mining, exploring or developing other planets or asteroids, or robot swarms for monitoring extreme environments on Earth. New design methodologies are needed that support the design of robots in-situ,  and that are capable of discovering new holistic designs that describe both body (morphology, hardware) and brains (controller, software).

This multi-institution EPSRC project proposed a unique approach that harnesses an artificial form of evolution to evolve robot designs, hybridising evolution in simulation with evolution directly in hardware to avoid the notorious ‘reality-gap’. New designs can be manufactured autonomously through a process of 3d-printing and automated assembly, leading to design of robots uniquely optimised for their environment.

The project has attracted significant media attention, e.g. in the Guardian, New Scientist and via a TED talk, in addition to a large number of academic publications available here.