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Robots can now build improved versions of themselves

A robotic system that can evolve and improve its performance has been developed by researchers in Cambridge and Zurich. The researchers claim to have observed traits being passed down the generations.
 
The robot essentially learns to build a better version of a simple  “baby robot,” consisting of plastic cubes with a motor inside, each time it attempts the process. 
 
The mother robot assesses how far its babies are able to move, and with no human intervention, improves the design so that the next one it builds can move further.
 
The research saw the mother robot build ten generations of children, with the final version moving twice the distance of the first before its power ran out. The work is published in the journal PLOS One.
 
The ultimate aims of the research project are to develop robots that adapt to their surroundings and to decipher the evolution process through robotics.
 
"One of the big questions in biology is how intelligence came about - we're using robotics to explore this mystery," Dr Fumiya Iida of Cambridge University, who led the research with colleagues at ETH University in Zurich, told BBC News.
 
"We think of robots as performing repetitive tasks, and they're typically designed for mass production instead of mass customisation, but we want to see robots that are capable of innovation and creativity."
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