MorphEngine: The Virtual Construction and Evolution Kit

 

 [Download the Demo Windows98/2000] MorphEngine is a virtual

 [Download the Documentation PS/PDF]  construction kit that allows the user to build a virtual robot, complete with sensors and motors. The user then specifies a task which the agent should accomplish, and MorphEngine evolves a suitable controller for your robot. The user can then watch the evolutionary process, or interact with an agent that exhibits one of the evolved behaviours. The original goal of the project was to make an educational software package that would hide the technical details of robot design and construction, physics-based simulation, and controller optimization from the user. In this way, students could build their own robot, and influence its behaviour, before being introduced to the details necessary to make this happen. So far, several students have used MorphEngine, and together have produced over 100 different robot designs. (For a good example, refer to Jonas Bösch's website.) The software as a rapid prototyping tool in our lab: currently it has been used to design two real robots (see below).

 

[Leaflet PDF] The above screen shot shows a spider-like robot constructed in MorphEngine's graphical user interface, MeCreator, designed by Nicolas Stohler. In MeCreator, the user virtually "constructs" their robot. The user then sends the robot blueprint to MorphEngine, which evolves behaviours for the robot within the physics-based simulator Vortex. This is done by generating a neural network based on the numbers of sensors and motors, and optimizing the synaptic weights of the resulting network using a genetic algorithm. By combining rapid construction with automatic evolution, it's possible for a typical user to construct a robot and evolve a behaviour for it in under an hour on a 1GHz PC. Below are individual screen shots depicting an evolved locomotory behaviour for the spider, along with a sample video.

 

 

·         From Simulation to Reality

·         Multiple Agents

·         Chemotaxis

·         Other Videos

 

bongard@ifi.unizh.ch