Designing Intelligent Robots-On the Implications of Embodiment-
Journal of the Robotics Society of Japan
Traditionally, in robotics, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience, there has been a focus on the study of the control or the neural system itself. Recently there has been an increasing interest into the notion of embodiment in all disciplines dealing with intelligent behavior, including psychology, philosophy, and linguistics. In this paper, we explore the far-reaching and often surprising implications of this concept. While embodiment has often been used in its trivial meaning, i.e.
... igence requires a body", there are deeper and more important consequences, concerned with connecting brain, body, and environment, or more generally with the relation between physical and information (neural, control) processes. It turns out that, for example, robots designed by exploiting embodiment are frequently simpler, more robust and adaptive than those based on the classical control paradigm. Often, morphology and materials can take over some of the functions normally attributed to control, a phenomenon called "morphological computation". It can be shown that through the embodied interaction with the environment, in particular through sensory-motor coordination, information structure is induced in the sensory data, thus facilitating perception and learning. A number of case studies are presented to illustrate the concept of embodiment. We conclude with some speculations about potential lessons for robotics.