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Evolutionary Robotics

Stefano Nolfi
Research Director at the Italian National Research Council (CNR)
Rome, Italy


Evolutionary Robotics is a methods that allow to synthesize robots that develop their skills autonomously in interaction with the physical, and eventually social environment, on the basis of an adaptive process driven by the ecological conditions in which the robot operate and by an fitness function designed by the experimenter. This method is particularly suitable for the development of robots that are embodied (i.e. that are able to exploit properties originating from the numerous interactions occurring over time between their body and the environment) and situated (i.e. that are able to exploit the properties arising from the fact that they can modify the next experienced sensory states through their action). In other words robots that, besides being provided with a physical body and beside being situated in a physical environment, are able to exploit the opportunities that their embodied and situated nature provides to them.

Intended Audience:

The tutorial will be of interest for those who want to know the method, the state-of-art, and the most promising research directions in this field. Moreover it would be of interest for those who want to gain a practical knowledge on the available tools that can be used to carry on research on this area. The themes presented aim to be self-explanatory and do require previous knowledge.

List of topics/research to be covered

1. Behavior and cognition as complex adaptive systems

2. How to evolve robots

3. Body /brain co-evolution

4. Sensory-Motor coordination

5. Evolving Collective Behavior

6. Introducing FARSA (http://laral.istc.cnr.it/farsa/): A powerful open source framework to carry on evolutionary robotics research

7. Open Issues, challenges and promising research directions


Stefano Nolfi (http://laral.istc.cnr.it/nolfi/) is research director at the Italian National Research Council (CNR), director of the Laboratory of Autonomous Robots and Artificial Life of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (http://laral.istc.cnr.it/) , and Director of the Rome Node of the Centre for Robotics and Neural System (UOP-CRNS), University of Plymouth, U.K.

Stefano is one of the founders of Evolutionary Robotics and the director of one of the most active research lab in this area. His research activities focus on the evolution and development of behavioural and cognitive skills in natural and artificial embodied agents (robots). He authored/co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications including a monograph book on Evolutionary Robotics published by MIT Press in 2000 (more than 1400 citations), and an edited book on Evolution of Communication and Language in Embodied Agents published by Springer Verlag in 2010. He has an H-Index of 44 according to Google Scholar.

He coordinated and participated to several research projects founded by international agencies including: the European Science Foundation Project on Hierarchical Heterogeneous Swarm (H2Swarm), the EU-FP7 Integrated Project on Transfer of Action and Language Knowledge in Robots (I-TALK), the EU-FP7 Strep Project on Towards Humanoid Robotic Swarms (SWARMANOID), EU-FP6 Integrated Project on Embodied and Communicating Agents (ECAgents), the EU-FP5 Strep Project on Swarms of Self-Assembling Artifacts (SWARM-BOTS).


The length of the tutorial:
two hours.


The URL for my tutorial slide is:



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