Environmental Regulation Using Plasticoding for the Evolution of Robots

Karine Miras*, Eliseo Ferrante, A. E. Eiben

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Evolutionary robot systems are usually affected by the properties of the environment indirectly through selection. In this paper, we present and investigate a system where the environment also has a direct effect—through regulation. We propose a novel robot encoding method where a genotype encodes multiple possible phenotypes, and the incarnation of a robot depends on the environmental conditions taking place in a determined moment of its life. This means that the morphology, controller, and behavior of a robot can change according to the environment. Importantly, this process of development can happen at any moment of a robot's lifetime, according to its experienced environmental stimuli. We provide an empirical proof-of-concept, and the analysis of the experimental results shows that environmental regulation improves adaptation (task performance) while leading to different evolved morphologies, controllers, and behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalFrontiers in Robotics and AI
Early online date1 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • environmental effects
  • environmental regulation
  • evolutionary robotics
  • locomotion
  • morphological evolution
  • phenotypic plasticity


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