The University of Edinburgh -
Division of Informatics
Forrest Hill & 80 South Bridge

Research Paper #851

Title:The Role of Emotions: Exploring Autonomy Mechanisms in Mobile Robots
Authors:Gadanho,S; Hallam,JC
Date:Apr 1997
Presented:Submitted to Adaptive Behaviour
Keywords:robotics, autonomy, emotions
Abstract:Autonomy is cinsidered to be an important property for a robot to have, yet this is not a well explored issue. This is particularly the case when one requires the meaning of autonomy to include self-motivation, instead of mear automaticity. The fact that emotions are seen as essential to human reasoning suggests that they might play an important role in achieving the necessary self-motivation. The purpose of the work reported here is to know if it advantageous to have emotional robots in terms of their final behaviour's autonomy. If this is the case, what should the role of emotions be ? An emotion model was developed under the animat philosophy, by building bottom-up a biologically inspired complete agent by synthesis. Experimental work was done in a realistic mobile robot simulator in order to assess the usefulness of the emotions in the robot's adaptive control. A Q-learning algorithm implemented with neural networks was used to control a robot in a simple animal-llike surviving task. Experiments revealed that having emotions provided a context evaluation to be used as a reinforcement value is not very helpful. A reinforcement based on simple raw sensations is much more successful. Extensive experiements were done to understand why. Results are reported and discussed. Finally, some alternative use for emotions are considered and tested.

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