Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Research Program

Autonomous Robotics

Autonomous robots are not only convenient platforms to implement our algorithms; the choice of such platforms is also motivated by theories in cognitive science and neuroscience indicating that cognition emerges from interactions of the body in direct loops with the world (embodiment of cognition [40]). In addition to real robotic platforms, software implementations of autonomous robotic systems including components dedicated to their body and their environment will be also possibly exploited, considering that they are also a tool for studying conditions for a real autonomous learning.

A real autonomy can be obtained only if the robot is able to define its goal by itself, without the specification of any high level and abstract cost function or rewarding state. To ensure such a capability, we propose to endow the robot with an artificial physiology, corresponding to perceive some kind of pain and pleasure. It may consequently discriminate internal and external goals (or situations to be avoided). This will mimick circuits related to fundamental needs (e.g. hunger and thirst) and to the preservation of bodily integrity. An important objective is to show that more abstract planning capabilities can arise from these basic goals.

A real autonomy with an on-line continuous learning as described in  § 3.3 will be made possible by the elaboration of protocols of learning, as it is the case, in animal conditioning, for experimental studies where performance on a task can be obtained only after a shaping in increasingly complex tasks. Similarly, developmental sciences can teach us about the ordered elaboration of skills and their association in more complex schemes. An important challenge here is to translate these hints at the level of the cerebral architecture.

As a whole, autonomous robotics permits to assess the consistency of our models in realistic condition of use and offers to our colleagues in behavioral sciences an object of study and comparison, regarding behavioral dynamics emerging from interactions with the environment, also observable at the neuronal level.

In summary, our main contribution in autonomous robotics is to make autonomy possible, by various means corresponding to endow robots with an artificial physiology, to give instructions in a natural and incremental way and to prioritize the synergy between reactive and robust schemes over complex planning structures.