A novel way to optimise robots

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t might sound obvious that if you want to improve a robot’s software, you should improve its software. Agrim Gupta of Stanford University, however, begs to differ. He thinks you can also improve a robot’s software by improving its hardware—that is, by letting the hardware adapt itself to the software’s capabilities.

As they describe in Nature Communications, he and his colleagues have devised a way of testing this idea. In doing so, they have brought to robotics the principles of evolution by natural selection. They have also cast the spotlight on an evolutionary idea that dates from the 1890s, but which has hitherto proved hard to demonstrate.

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