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From engineers at Brandeis University comes this wild world of evolutionary robotics. Golem ("Genetically Organized Lifelike Electro Mechanics"), named for the Jewish legend of the golem, is a project involving electro-mechanical objects that build themselves according to basic principles of evolution. In the words of the investigators: "In the Golem project we conducted a set of experiments in which simple electro-mechanical systems evolved from scratch to yield physical locomoting machines. Like biological lifeforms whose structure and function exploit the behaviors afforded by their own chemical and mechanical medium, our evolved creatures take advantage of the nature of their own medium - thermoplastic, motors, and artificial neurons." Visitors to the Golem Project site can read about the project's inspiration, the design and construction of the robots, and some preliminary results and conclusions. An explanation of the physics behind the simulation of mechanics and neural control of a machine is given also, with formulae and graphics. A particularly interesting feature of the site is the downloadable program (available as a screensaver, Golem 2.42, or as a stand-alone program, Live Truss 1.2) that simulates the Golem project by evolving bodies and brains of electromechanical robots, and animating some on the screen (Win95/98/NT, 740K). The animated bodies created by the program can leave your computer and migrate to other computers that have the program (see the site for logistical and copyright details).
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