Evolution of Physical Systems Workshop

September 2, 2013

We use the term Evolution of Physical Systems (EPS) to refer to evolutionary algorithms which occur entirely in real-world physical substrates rather than in simulation. The term encompasses both parallel Embodied Evolution (Watson et al., 2002), in which evolution is distributed across a population of robots, as well as Evolutionary Robotics (Floreano and Mondada, 1994) where evaluation is serialized on a single robot. Notable examples of EPS occur across a wide variety of systems, ranging from Robotics (Zykov et al., 2004)] to FPGAs (Thompson, 1996) to 3D printers (Rieffel and Sayles, 2010). Although EPS comes at a cost (the speed of the real world, unlike CPUs, does not follow Moore's Law), by definition it avoids the "reality gap" imposed by simulation, and has produced novel and tangeable real-world results. Regardless of application or method, all implementations of EPS are bound by many of the same constraints and technical challenges. The aim of this full-day single-track workshop is to bring together researchers who are currently involved in the Evolution of Physical Systems, as well as those interested in the technique, in order to share ideas and innovations. As the frontiers of artificial life move from the computer to the petri dish, the Evolution of Physical Systems offers to provide inroads into domains which are otherwise impossible to simulate.

The first EPS Workshop, at ALIFE `13 in East Lansing Michigan, was a tremendous success. Spread over an entire day, we had time for ight speakers to give presentations, as well as an extended panel session on the promises and pitfalls of the Evolution of Physical Systems. The room was packed for both morning and afternoon session, with more than 60 attendees. Note: Workshop-only registration is available


  • * Keynote: "A Retrospective on the Evolution of Physical Systems: Noise and Dirt in the Reality Gap" , Inman Harvey (University of Sussex)

  • * "On-line On-board Evolution for Modular Robot Organisms", Berend Weel (VU University), Florian Schlachter (Stuttgart University), Wenguo Liu (University of Western England), A.E. Eiben (VU University)

  • * "Physical Evolution of Tensegrity Robots", Mark Khazanov, Julian Jocque, John Rieffel (Union College)

  • * "Online Evolutionary Algorithms in Real World Robots", Danny Zoetemelk, Evert Haasdijk (VU University)

  • * "Highly Resilient Hexapod Robot Thanks to Evolution", Jean-Baptiste Mouret (Universite Pierre et Marie Curie)

  • * "The ChIRP, a Cheap Interchangeable Robotic Platform for Swarm Robotics: presentation and applications" , Christian Skjetne, Anders Rye, Havard Schei, Jean-Marc Montanier and Pauline Haddow (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

  • *"Evolving Aquatic Robots ", Anthony Clark, Jared Moore, Philip McKinley (Michigan State University)