CS81: Developmental Robotics
Spring 2006
Swarthmore College

Professor: Lisa Meeden
Course: Wednesdays 1:15-4:00, SCI 252
Email: meeden AT cs.swarthmore.edu
Office: SCI 243
Phone: 328-8565
Office hours: Thursdays 1:30-3:30pm, or by appointment


Completed Projects

Course description

This course will focus on the special topic of developmental robotics, a newly emerging paradigm of research. The goal of this research is to create intelligent robots by allowing them to go through a developmental process, rather than being directly programmed by human engineers. By endowing a robot with an appropriate initial control architecture and adaptive mechanisms, it can learn through continual interactions with the world, developing self-organized knowledge about itself and its environment. We will be studying the following sorts of questions. What should be innate in the robot? What adaptive mechanisms are needed? What motivates the robot to act?

The course is made-up of two components: seminar discussions and laboratory work. Each class meeting, we will typically spend the first half having a discussion about the assigned readings and the second half experimenting with various adaptive mechanisms for controlling robots.

Initially we will read a survey article describing the field of developmental robotics. Then we will spend several weeks reading Tom Schultz's book Computational Developmental Psychology, which is available at the bookstore. For the remainder of the semester, we will read articles from the primary literature on various subtopics related to developmental robotics.


1 Jan 18   Developmental Robotics: A survey, Lungarella, Metta, Pfeifer, and Sandini 1: Python and Pyro
2 Jan 25 Jenny brings food
Last Day to Add/Drop (Jan 27)
Generative Neural Networks
Chapters 1-2, Schultz
2: Backprop vs Quickprop
3 Feb 01 Anthony brings food Examples of Developmental Models
Chapters 3-4, Schultz
4 Feb 08 Ethan brings food Developmental Stages
Chapters 5-7, Schultz
3: Robot learning with Cascade Correlation
5 Feb 15 Scott brings food
Midterm project assigned
Intrinsic Motivation
1. An emergent framework for self-motivation in developmental robotics Marshall, Blank and Meeden
2. The playground experiment: Task-independent development of a curious robot Oudeyer, Kaplan, Hafner and Whyte
3. Intrinsically motivated reinforcement learning Singh, Barto and Chentanez
Midterm project
6 Feb 22 Alan brings food Developmental Robot Architectures
1. The discovery of communication Oudeyer and Kaplan
2. Developmental robotics: A new paradigm Weng and Zhang
7 Mar 01 Javier brings food Discuss papers related to the midterm projects
Mar 03 Midterm project due by Noon
  Mar 08 Spring Break
8 Mar 15 Alex brings food
1: Phil and Dan
2: Jenny
3: Heather
Abstraction and Anticipation
1. Bringing up robot: Fundamental mechanisms for creating a self-motivated, self-organizing architecture Blank, Kumar, Meeden and Marshall
2. The mulitple roles of anticipation in developmental robotics Blank, Lewis, and Marshall
3. Sensory flow segmentation using a resource allocating vector quantizer Linaker and Niklasson
9 Mar 22 Phil brings food
1: Ben and Connie
2: Scott
Last Day to Withdraw with W (Mar 24)
State abstraction
1. Developing navigation behavior through self-organizing distinctive state abstraction Provost, Kuipers, and Miikkulainen
2. A growing neural gas network learns topologies Fritzke
10 Mar 29 Shingo & Dan bring food
1: Alex
2: Javier
3: Anthony
Final project proposals due in class
Continuous categories
1. Learning concepts by interaction Cohen
2. Continuous categories for a mobile robot Rosenstein and Cohen
3. Identifying qualitatively different experiences: Experiments with a mobile robot Oates, Schmill, and Cohen
Final project
11 Apr 05 Connie brings food
1: Alan
2: Shingo
1. Autoassociator networks: Insights into infant cognition Sirois
2. Detecting novel features of an environment using habituation Marsland, Nehmzow, and Shapiro
12 Apr 12 Heather brings food
1: Ethan
2: Steve
Development and evolution
1. A developmental model for the evolution of complete autonomous agents Dellaert and Beer
2. Automatic design and manufacture of robotics lifeforms Lipson and Pollack
13 Apr 19 Steve brings food Project presentations:
Alex and Scott
Dan and Shingo
Ben and Steve
14 Apr 26 Ben brings food Project presentations:
Ethan and Anthony
Connie and Phil
Heather and Jenny
  May 15 Final project due by Noon