New Robotics

Design Principles for Intelligent Systems

Rolf Pfeifer, Fumiya Iida and Josh C. Bongard
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Department of Information Technology
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland

Citation: R. Pfeifer, F. Iida and J. C. Bongard [2005]. Artificial Life. Vol. 11, Issues 1-2, pp. 99 - 120 - Winter-Spring 2005. Special Issue on Embodied and Situated Cognition. Preprint available in pdf format.

Abstract: New robotics is an approach to robotics that, in contrast to traditional robotics, employs ideas and principles from biology. While in the traditional approach there are generally accepted methods (e.g., from control theory), designing agents in the new robotics approach is still largely considered an art. In recent years, we have been developing a set of heuristics, or design principles, that on the one hand capture theoretical insights about intelligent (adaptive) behavior, and on the other provide guidance in actually designing and building systems. In this article we provide an overview of all the principles but focus on the principles of ecological balance, which concerns the relation between environment, morphology, materials, and control, and sensory-motor coordination, which concerns self-generated sensory stimulation as the agent interacts with the environment and which is a key to the development of high-level intelligence. As we argue, artificial evolution together with morphogenesis is not only "nice to have" but is in fact a necessary tool for designing embodied agents.

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Last Modified: May 27, 2005