Robotic Evolutionary Self-Programming and Self-Assembling Organisms

BioRobotics Institute Role: 

Project Lifetime
Mar 2008 to Aug 2013

Funding Institutions: 

European Community

Research Program: 
7th Framework Program - Cognitive Systems and Robotics
Grant no.: 
Contribution to SSSA: 
500k euro
Dedicated website: 

The Replicator project focuses on the development of an advanced robotic system, consisting of a super-large-scale swarm of small autonomous mobile micro-robots that are capable of self-assembling into large artificial organisms. These robotic organisms posses common energy and information buses as well as reliable legged, wheeled or climbing locomotion, based on modular sub-systems which can be autonomously reconfigured. Thanks to the heterogeneity of the elementary robots and their capability to share resources and communicate, the robotic organisms are able to achieve a large computational power, and rich close-and far-range sensing. The energy is autonomously harvested from external power sources. The main goal of the project is to develop novel principles underlying these robotic organisms, such as self-configuration, self-adjustment, and self learning. The bio-inspired evolutionary approach and evolvable hardware structure adopted in this project enable the robotic organisms to emerge new functionalities, to develop their own cognitive and control structures and, finally, to work autonomously in uncertain situations without human supervision. Ultimately, these robotic organisms, which are extremely adaptive, robust, scalable and rich in sensing and actuating capabilities, will be used to build autonomous sensor networks, capable of self-spreading and self-maintaining in open-ended, even hazardous, environments.

What we do: 

We are primary involved into hardware development of micro-laser sources (VCSELs) and IR-based optoelectronics components. We are also involved in the mechanical design of the robot, in the development of a Laser-based sensor scanner and in the top-down approach for control and optimization og morphology.
The group emphasis is to put in sensors and actuators interface circuits, data processing algorithms and digital communications.


Universität Stuttgart (Coordinator)
Universität Graz
Sheffield Hallam University
Universität Karlsruhe
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
Institut Mikroelektronickych Aplikaci, s.r.o.
Ubisense Ltd.
Almende BV
Ceske Vysoke Uceni Technicke v Praze (Czech Technical University)

Media - pictures: 



Harada K., Corradi P., Popesku S. & Liedke J., Reconfigurable Heterogeneous MechanicalModules. In Symbiotic Multi-Robot Organisms (Eds.: P. Levi and S. Kernbach), pp.80–115, Springer-Verlag, 2010, doi: 10.1007/979-3-642-11692-6

Kernbach S., Thenius R., Kernbach O. & Schmickl T., Re-Embodiment of Honeybee Aggregation Behavior in Artificial Micro-Robotic System, Adaptive Behavior, Vol. 17(3), pp. 237–259, 2009. doi: 10.1177/1059712309104966

Kernbach S. , Meister E., Schlachter F., Jebens K., Szymanski M., Liedke J., Laneri D., Winkler L., Schmickl T., Thenius R., Corradi P., and Ricotti L., Symbiotic robot organisms: REPLICATOR and SYMBRION projects. In Proc. of Performance Metrics for Intelligent Systems Workshop (PerMIS-08), pages 62–69, Gaithersburg, MD, USA, 2008

Schmickl T.,  Stradner J., Hamann H., Winkler L. &Crailsheim K.,  Major Feedback Loops Supporting Artificial Evolution in Multi-modular Robotics. New Horizons in Evolutionary Robotics. Studies in Computational Intelligence, Volume 341/2011, 195-209, 2011, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-18272-3 13 

Meet the team

Godfried Jansen van Vuuren, Luigi Manfredi, Kanako Harada, Sheila Russo, Tommaso Ranzani, Leonardo ricotti, Paolo Corradi