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First published July 1 2016

The Evolution of Evolvability in Evolutionary Robotics

David Shorten and Geoff Nitschke

Abstract (Excerpt)

Previous research has demonstrated that computational models of Gene Regulatory Networks (GRNs) can adapt so as to increase their evolvability, where evolvability is defined as a populations responsiveness to environmental change. In such previous work, phenotypes have been represented as bit strings formed by concatenating the activations of the GRN after simulation. This research is an extension where previous results supporting the evolvability of GRNs are replicated, however, the phenotype space is enriched with time and space dynamics with an evolutionary robotics task environment. It was found that a GRN encoding used in the evolution of a way-point navigation behavior in a fluctuating environment results in (robot controller) populations becoming significantly more responsive (evolvable) over time. This is as compared to a direct encoding of controllers which was unable to improve its evolvability in the same task environment.