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UVM Theses and Dissertations

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Format:
Online
Author:
Bernatskiy, Anton
Dept./Program:
Department of Computer Science
Year:
2018
Degree:
Ph.D.
Abstract:
Creating systems that can operate autonomously in complex environments is a challenge for contemporary engineering techniques. Automatic design methods offer a promising alternative, but so far they have not been able to produce agents that outperform manual designs. One such method is evolutionary robotics. It has been shown to be a robust and versatile tool for designing robots to perform simple tasks, but more challenging tasks at present remain out of reach of the method. In this thesis I discuss and attack some problems underlying the scalability issues associated with the method. I present a new technique for evolving modular networks. I show that the performance of modularity-biased evolution depends heavily on the morphology of the robot's body and present a new method for co-evolving morphology and modular control. To be able to reason about the new technique I develop reformulation framework: a general way to describe and reason about metaoptimization approaches. Within this framework I describe a new heuristic for developing metaoptimization approaches that is based on the technique for co-evolving morphology and modularity. I validate the framework by applying it to a practical task of zero-g autonomous assembly of structures with a fleet of small robots. Although this work focuses on the evolutionary robotics, methods and approaches developed within it can be applied to optimization problems in any domain.