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Robots Decifer Evolution of Communication

Robert Heiny

Research Scientist of Learning and Education
Flight Instructor
Researchers at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and EPFL used robots to test whether communication systems can evolve differently within the same animal species and even the same environment. The research enables a better understanding of communication within the animal kingdom.

The team conducted an experimental evolution in 20 independently evolving populations of cooperatively foraging simulated robots. They reported two major findings:

1. That the more complex foraging strategy was less efficient than the simpler strategy.

2. However, when the 20 populations were placed in competition with each other, the populations with the more complex strategy outperformed the populations with the less complex strategy.

These results demonstrate a tradeoff between communication efficiency and robustness. These differences suggest some events have important effects on the evolution of communication and the outcome of competition between distinct populations.

Supporting information