Phil Husbands, Tom Smith, Nick Jakobi, Michael O'Shea
This paper introduces a new type of artificial neural network (GasNets) and shows that it is possible to use evolutionary computing techniques to find robot controllers based on them. The controllers are built from networks inspired by the modulatory effects of freely diffusing gases, especially nitric oxide, in real neuronal networks. Evolutionary robotics techniques were used to develop control networks and visual morphologies to enable a robot to achieve a target discrimination task under very noisy lighting conditions. A series of evolutionary runs with and without the gas modulation active demonstrated that networks incorporating modulation by diffusing gases evolved to produce successful controllers considerably faster than networks without this mechanism. GasNets also consistently achieved evolutionary success in far fewer evaluations than were needed when using more conventional connectionist style networks.
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