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Hardcover | $10.75 Short | £7.95 | 221 pp. | 7.1 x 9 in | November 1997 | ISBN: 9780262041645

Robot Shaping

An Experiment in Behavior Engineering



foreword by Lashon Booker
To program an autonomous robot to act reliably in a dynamic environment is a complex task. The dynamics of the environment are unpredictable, and the robots' sensors provide noisy input. A learning autonomous robot, one that can acquire knowledge through interaction with its environment and then adapt its behavior, greatly simplifies the designer's work. A learning robot need not be given all of the details of its environment, and its sensors and actuators need not be finely tuned.

Robot Shaping is about designing and building learning autonomous robots. The term "shaping" comes from experimental psychology, where it describes the incremental training of animals. The authors propose a new engineering discipline, "behavior engineering," to provide the methodologies and tools for creating autonomous robots. Their techniques are based on classifier systems, a reinforcement learning architecture originated by John Holland, to which they have added several new ideas, such as "mutespec," classifier system "energy," and dynamic population size. In the book they present Behavior Analysis and Training (BAT) as an example of a behavior engineering methodology.


About the Author

Marco Dorigo is a research director of the FNRS, the Belgian

National Funds for Scientific Research, and co-director of IRIDIA, the artificial intelligence laboratory of the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He is the inventor of the ant colony optimization metaheuristic. His current research interests include swarm intelligence, swarm robotics, and metaheuristics for discrete optimization. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Swarm Intelligence, and an Associate Editor or member of the Editorial Boards of many journals on computational intelligence and adaptive systems. Dr. Dorigo is a Fellow of the ECCAI and of the IEEE. He was awarded the Italian Prize for Artificial Intelligence in 1996, the Marie Curie Excellence Award in 2003, the Dr. A. De Leeuw-Damry-Bourlart award in applied sciences in 2005, the Cajastur "Mamdani" International Prize for Soft Computing in 2007, and an ERC Advanced Grant in 2010.


“[This] book gives a clear and comprehensive exposition of[the authors] extensive experience in integrating reinforcement learning and autonomous robotics. Their continuing contribution is to the development of a distinct engineering discipline(`Behavior engineering') through which such robots can be created. I am excited because their efforts combine some of the best theoretical ideaswith a strong eye for the practical - for what will actually work.”
Stewart W. Wilson, The Rowland Institute for Science

“Dorigo and Colombetti’ remarkable Robot Shaping brings us ever closer to the goal of automatically teaching real robots to grapple with real environments. The authors introduce us to behavior engineering in a series of innovative experiments with simulated and real environments.”
John Koza, Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University

“[This] is a carefully written collection of work performed by the authors in the last half-decade. It is not only a detailed report of their novel and important experiments, but is also excellent reading for a wide audience, ranging from graduate students and researchers just entering the field…to established contributors who are interested in the details of the authors’ contributions for the purposes of continuing work…A very strong, well-rounded [book].”
Maja J. Mataric, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Volen Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University