Self Replication

Project participantsViktor Zykov, Efstathios Mytilinaios, Bryant Adams, Hod Lipson (see team picture). Former participants: Mark Desnoyer, David Marcus

Self-replication is a fundamental property of many interesting physical, formal and biological systems, such as crystals, waves, automata, and especially forms of natural and artificial life. Despite its importance to many phenomena, self-replication has not been consistently defined or quantified in a rigorous, universal way, nor has it been demonstrated systematically in physical artificial systems. Our research focuses both on a new information-theoretic understanding of self-replication phenomena, and the design and implementation of scalable physical robotic systems where various forms of artificial self replication can occur. Our goal is twofold: To understand principles of self-replication in nature, and to explore the use of these principles to design more robust, self-sustaining and adaptive machines.

Self-reproduction of a physical, three-dimensional 4-module robot: (a) A basic module and an illustration of its internal actuation mechanism; (b) Three snapshots from the first 10 seconds showing how a 4-module robot transforms as its modules swivel simultaneously. (c) A sequence of frames showing the self reproduction process that spans about 2.5 minutes. The entire reproduction process runs continuously without human intervention, except for replenishing building blocks at the two 'feeding' locations circled in red. More images of the robot itself and a movie and sequence of snapshots showing two generations of self reproduction are available as supplemental material. Click on image to see movie (Get Mpeg version here)





Self-reproduction of simulated, two-dimensional robots: The morphology and controller of these 7- and 8-module robots was generated automatically by an evolutionary algorithm. See more information

More Information

Related Publications

Zykov V., Mytilinaios E., Adams B., Lipson H. (2005) "Self-reproducing machines", Nature Vol. 435 No. 7038, pp. 163-164

Efstathios  Mytilinaios, David Marcus, Mark Desnoyer and Hod Lipson, (2004) “Designed and Evolved Blueprints For Physical Self-Replicating Machines”, Ninth Int. Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE IX), pp. 15-20

Adams B., Lipson H., (2003) “A universal framework for self-replication”, European Conference on Artificial Life, ECAL’03, September 2003, Dortmund Germany, Lecture Notes in Computer Science Vol 2801, pp. 1-9

Studer G, Lipson H., (2005) "Spontaneous emergence of self-replicating, competing cube species in physical cube automata", GECCO Late Breaking Paper, to appear.

White P. J., Kopanski K., Lipson H. (2004), “Stochastic Self-Reconfigurable Cellular Robotics”, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA04), pp. 2888-2893

Grouchy, P. and Lipson, H. (2012) "Evolution of Self-Replicating Cube Conglomerations in a Simulated 3D Environment", Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on the Simulation & Synthesis of Living Systems (ALife '13), pp. 59-66.


Thanks to Laser Reproductions and Protocall for their support in rapid-prototyping the molecube shells