A team led by Northwestern University researchers has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) that can intelligently design robots from scratch.
To test the new AI, the researchers of the Illinois, US, based university asked the system to design a robot that can walk across a flat surface. The new algorithm accomplished the task at lightning speed by designing a successfully walking robot in mere seconds.
The AI program is not only fast, but also runs on a lightweight personal computer and designs completely new structures from scratch. This makes the algorithm different from other AI systems, which often require high energy consuming supercomputers and enormously large datasets. Despite such impressive inputs, those systems only mimic humans’ past works without an ability to generate new ideas.
The computer started with a block about the size of a bar of soap, which could jiggle but not walk. The AI then quickly iterated on the design, and with each iteration, assessed its design, found flaws, and worked at the simulated block to update its structure. Eventually, the simulated robot was developed and could bounce in place, hop forward and shuffle. After just nine attempts, the technology generated a robot that could walk half its body length per second and at about half the speed of an average human pace.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal on October 3.