Real time evolutionary algorithms in robotic neural control systems.
Jagadeesan, Ananda Prasanna
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This thesis describes the use of a Real-Time Evolutionary Algorithm (RTEA) to optimise an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) on-line (in this context “on-line” means while it is in use). Traditionally, Evolutionary Algorithms (Genetic Algorithms, Evolutionary Strategies and Evolutionary Programming) have been used to train networks before use - that is “off-line,” as have other learning systems like Back-Propagation and Simulated Annealing. However, this means that the network cannot react to new situations (which were not in its original training set). The system outlined here uses a Simulated Legged Robot as a test-bed and allows it to adapt to a changing Fitness function. An example of this in reality would be a robot walking from a solid surface onto an unknown surface (which might be, for example, rock or sand) while optimising its controlling network in real-time, to adjust its locomotive gait, accordingly. The project initially developed a Central Pattern Generator (CPG) for a Bipedal Robot and used this to explore the basic characteristics of RTEA. The system was then developed to operate on a Quadruped Robot and a test regime set up which provided thousands of real-environment like situations to test the RTEA’s ability to control the robot. The programming for the system was done using Borland C++ Builder and no commercial simulation software was used. Through this means, the Evolutionary Operators of the RTEA were examined and their real-time performance evaluated. The results demonstrate that a RTEA can be used successfully to optimise an ANN in real-time. They also show the importance of Neural Functionality and Network Topology in such systems and new models of both neurons and networks were developed as part of the project. Finally, recommendations for a working system are given and other applications reviewed.