They develop a program that can create a robot in seconds

Isbel Lázaro.

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Inspenet, November 18, 2023.

Scientists in the United States have created software that can generate a walking-capable robot design through a rapid procedure that produces results that defy conventional expectations.

“Design a robot that can walk”: From this single instruction entered into a computer, a computer program created at Northwestern University came up with the concept of a three-legged robot that could theoretically move.

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It was later converted into a digital model to facilitate 3D printing. Specifically, the robots’ molds were printed, resulting in a soft, dimpled structure. Its propulsion is achieved by injecting compressed air into its structure. This project was led by experts in artificial intelligence, robotics and xenobots and was published in PNAS at the beginning of October.

The creation of the robot required several attempts

The algorithm generated a random structure as a result, in this case, a type of spongy block that lacks the ability to move. Artificial intelligence virtually carries out a “test” of the structure, then corrects it and creates a second concept. This process is repeated, generating a third concept and so on.

Finally, after ten iterations, which include the first draft, the artificial intelligence manages to generate a valid concept. It is relevant to note that this entire process is completed in just 26 seconds .

Since there is no involvement of machine learning or use of training data sets in this process, an extremely fast simulation of an evolutionary cycle is used, where the robot experiments with the functions that are effective or not through artificial intelligence.

Nothing in the software indicated that the artificial intelligence would opt for a machine with legs, according to the research paper. He had the option of suggesting a structure that moved by crawling or exploring the possibility of peristaltic movement (through muscular contractions of a hollow organ). However, the resulting concept is a structure composed of solid and empty parts, which create spaces between what appear to be limbs.

These empty spaces allowed the researchers to use compressed air to propel their movement, thus imitating the functioning of real muscles.

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