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Evolutionary Computation

Spring 2016, Vol. 24, No. 1, Pages 59-88
(doi: 10.1162/EVCO_a_00143)
© 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Evolving a Behavioral Repertoire for a Walking Robot
Article PDF (2.52 MB)
Abstract

Numerous algorithms have been proposed to allow legged robots to learn to walk. However, most of these algorithms are devised to learn walking in a straight line, which is not sufficient to accomplish any real-world mission. Here we introduce the Transferability-based Behavioral Repertoire Evolution algorithm (TBR-Evolution), a novel evolutionary algorithm that simultaneously discovers several hundreds of simple walking controllers, one for each possible direction. By taking advantage of solutions that are usually discarded by evolutionary processes, TBR-Evolution is substantially faster than independently evolving each controller. Our technique relies on two methods: (1) novelty search with local competition, which searches for both high-performing and diverse solutions, and (2) the transferability approach, which combines simulations and real tests to evolve controllers for a physical robot. We evaluate this new technique on a hexapod robot. Results show that with only a few dozen short experiments performed on the robot, the algorithm learns a repertoire of controllers that allows the robot to reach every point in its reachable space. Overall, TBR-Evolution introduced a new kind of learning algorithm that simultaneously optimizes all the achievable behaviors of a robot.