Robots invent a language

The EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) has been decidedly not to speak of it, in terms of robotics. A team of Swiss researchers consist of robotics Dario Floreano, Sara Mitri, Stéphane Magnenat and Laurent Keller of the Biologist, has developed a simulation composed of virtual robots that can understand what factors determine how communication occurs in the evolution of social organizations. The virtual robots used are composed of evolutionary algorithms, which enable them to respond and adapt to their environment.Communication is critical to the ecological success of social organizations. But the study of the evolution of the communication is made very difficult by the absence of trace fossils of communication as it existed in the primitive social animals.To perform their study, researchers have resorted to simulation (the simulator is Enki, a 2D simulator in C + +). They studied the behavior of hundreds of colonies composed of 10 individuals. The development of these settlements has continued for 500 generations. Once the robots “virtual” presented interesting features, the program was transferred to real robots, this time. Presentation of experiences
The robots are placed in an environment unknown, with a reserve of food and a pool of poison. Each robot is able to move and differentiate the poison food. Each robot has to base a simple encoding the variable parameters in a “genome”, a sort of database that can change over generations. The settings can encode for example the importance of altruism, or the spirit of competition. At the “reproduction”, the best performing individuals will be selected and will produce a new generation by passing their own genome, which in theory will combine the benefits of both parents. According to Laurent Keller, “under certain conditions, a sophisticated communication has developed. We have seen colonies use lights to indicate they had found food and others reported the poison.” This use of primitive codes could well prove to be the root of language.